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Issa to Launch LightSquared Investigation

As expected, it looks like Rep. Darrell Issa will launch an investigation into whether the Obama administration gave any improper political assistance to broadband company LightSquared, The Hill reports:

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Tuesday that his committee plans to investigate government loan programs to private corporations in light of allegations of improper dealings between the White House and failed energy company Solyndra and wireless start-up LightSquared.

“I want to see when the president and his cronies are picking winners and losers… it wasn’t because there were large contributions given to them,” the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee said Tuesday morning on C-SPAN.

Issa’s subpoena power will help shed light on the growing controversy, which first came under scrutiny after iWatch News reported LightSquared’s CEO contributed $30,400 to the Democratic Party on the same day the company requested meetings with administration officials.

Last week, Eli Lake reported the White House pressured a four-star general to change his congressional testimony to be more favorable to LightSquared during a hearing that involved the company. And now, a second administration witness says the White House asked him to change his testimony as well:

Anthony Russo, director of the National Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing, told The Daily Beast he rejected “guidance” from the White House’s Office of Budget and Management suggesting he tell Congress that the government’s concerns about the project by the firm LightSquared could be resolved in 90 days, a timetable favorable to the company’s plans.

“They gave that to me and presumably the other witnesses,” Russo said. “There is one sentence I disagreed with, which said that I thought the testing could be resolved in 90 days. So I took it out.”

Four out of the five administration witnesses had virtually identical paragraphs in their testimonies:

Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), the chairman of the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, said he was troubled that four out of the five government witnesses before his Sept. 8 hearing had “identical language in their written testimony reflecting the administration’s view of the LightSquared project. The language diminished the otherwise blunt assessments the witnesses articulated during the hearing when pressed by committee members.”

What Issa will have to find out now is why the White House was so set on following a timeline favorable to LightSquared, and whether Obama’s close personal and financial ties to the company played a role in that decision.