FCC relocation plan spurs investigation

WASHINGTON — A key House member is asking the Dept. of Justice to conduct a criminal investigation into allegations that a former aide to Vice President Al Gore improperly influenced a decision to relocate the Federal Communication Commission’s D.C. headquarters.

House telecommunications subcommittee chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) will ask Justice Dept. investigators to look into dealings between former Gore aide Peter Knight and Clinton administration officials over the move, Tauzin spokesman Ken Johnson confirmed. Knight, who also served as the Clinton/Gore campaign manager, was allegedly paid $1 million by prominent Tennessee Democrat Franklin Haney to lobby on behalf of the move. Haney is an investor in the company developing the property where the FCC is supposed to relocate.

In addition, another Congressional subcommittee charged with oversight of the FCC has formally requested the agency to turn over all documents related to the move. Although the FCC is the agency doing the moving, it is has little to do with the actual terms of the real estate deal. Those details were negotiated by the General Services Administration. The move, which is expected to cost taxpayers $30 million, is scheduled to begin next year.

The move is widely lamented by communications industry lobbyists who lease valuable office space near the agency’s current location in downtown Washington. The new building, named the Portals, is tucked between the banks of the Potomac River and a small freeway.

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