House rescinds wireless Hill deal cut by Abramoff

Bribery led to exclusive deal for Israeli company to provide wireless service to House, Senate followed suit, locking out competitors.

The Abramoff scandal is getting personal for members of Congress. House leaders suspended a a multimillion-dollar wireless communications license that was improperly awarded to a Washington area firm in exchange for gifts from Abramoff. Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) got the license for Mobile Access, formerly Foxcom Wireless of Israel in exchange for campaign contributions, expensive meals, luxury travel and sports tickets, The Washington Post reports.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said the license "has been suspended pending review," which could affect the wireless contract for the congressional visitors center now under construction.

"I think a company should not profit from corrupt actions," said Lofgren, who is on the House Administration Committee. "Obviously, what happened in awarding the contract was wrong, illegal, corrupt. The question is what role did the company have? Was the company a knowing participant?"

Abramoff and Neil G. Volz, who went to work for Abramoff as a lobbyist after serving as Ney's top aide, admitted in plea agreements this year that the wireless license was a favor for Abramoff in exchange for gifts.

The decision to suspend the contract was good news for LGC Wireless of San Jose, which lost out on both the House and Senate contracts because of the shady dealings.

"Given that it is public record that the House wireless job was awarded to Foxcom/MobileAccess due to Jack Abramoff's improper influence, and MobileAccess has subsequently been the recipient of follow-on business on the Hill in large part due to that initial award, we feel that it is appropriate that the license be reviewed," LGC spokesman John Spindler said. "Only in this way can competitiveness and fairness in any future government awards be ensured."