Will the scandals never cease? After the Solyndra 'green jobs' failure, the AttackWatch laughingstock, and the CLASS Act shadiness circulating through the headlines this week, I would wager that the White House is none too pleased with this morning's report from The Daily Beast, exposing the adminstration's efforts to pressure an Air Force general into altering his testimony to favor a company backed by a major Democratic donor. Damn.
The four-star Air Force general who oversees U.S. Space Command walked into a highly secured room on Capitol Hill a week ago to give a classified briefing to lawmakers and staff, and dropped a surprise. Pressed by members, Gen. William Shelton said the White House tried to pressure him to change his testimony to make it more favorable to a company tied to a large Democratic donor.
The episode—confirmed by The Daily Beast in interviews with administration officials and the chairman of a congressional oversight committee—is the latest in a string of incidents that have given Republicans sudden fodder for questions about whether the Obama administration is politically interfering in routine government matters that affect donors or fundraisers. Already, the FBI and a House committee are investigating a federal loan guarantee to a now failed solar firm called Solyndra that is tied to a large Obama fundraiser.
Now the Pentagon has been raising concerns about a new wireless project by a satellite broadband company in Virginia called LightSquared, whose majority owner is an investment fund run by Democratic donor Philip Falcone. Gen. Shelton was originally scheduled to testify Aug. 3 to a House committee that the project would interfere with the military’s sensitive Global Positioning Satellite capabilities, which control automated driving directions and missile targeting, among other things.
According to officials familiar with the situation, Shelton’s prepared testimony was leaked in advance to the company. And the White House asked the general to alter the testimony to add two points: that the general supported the White House policy to add more broadband for commercial use; and that the Pentagon would try to resolve the questions around LightSquared with testing in just 90 days. Shelton chafed at the intervention, which seemed to soften the Pentagon’s position and might be viewed as helping the company as it tries to get the project launched, the officials said.
The White House says that its a routine procedure for affected agencies to review testimony and for the Office of Management and Budget to offer suggestions, and that such interventions are not meant to be political. [Insert loud scoffing sound here.] LightSquared has been working with administration officials to further advance President Obama's goal of providing near universal wireless internet coverage to all Americans (a major tenet of his "revamping America's infrastructure to grow the economy" canon), and the company's CEO and majority management have given some sweet cash monies to Democratic causes.
If the White House is willing to fast-track superficially appealing but fiscally insolvent legislation for political gain (re: CLASS Act), and to dole out federal stimulus loans in an attempt to manipulate the free market and create imaginary 'green' jobs for political gain (re: Solyndra), then heck, why wouldn't they be willing to push through a pet project at the expense of national security, for political gain?
I'm going to let Sarah Palin wrap this one up with an excerpt from her all too timely Facebook post, "Crony Capitalism on Steroids":
President Obama has his sights set on raising $1 billion for his reelection campaign. Raising that money won’t be easy. But if you can hand out other people’s money to friends, it must get a whole lot easier. This crony capitalism and government waste is at the heart of our economic problems. It will destroy us if we don’t root it out. It’s not just a Democrat problem or a Republican problem. It’s a problem of our permanent political class. This won’t stop until “we the people” say enough is enough, and we retire the permanent political class that votes for this.