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McCain Demands List of Northpoint Investors

Battling against legislation that would put Northpoint Technology Ltd. in good stead to win free spectrum, Senate Commerce Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) has asked the company to provide names of all individuals holding a financial interest in the company or options to invest.

Citing "recent reports," McCain, in an Oct. 17 letter to the company, said, "Several well-connected individuals" have been provided financial interests in the company and stand to gain from pending legislation that would require the Federal Communications Commission to cancel a planned January auction and instead give away spectrum for a terrestrially delivered pay TV service Northpoint plans to create.

McCain said reported names include relatives of Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), former Clinton secretary Betsey Wright, a former executive director of the Mississippi Republican party, "major Democratic money men," the wife of an aide to Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.).

McCain, who wants the spectrum auctioned, said Congress needs the "necessary facts to render an informed decision" on giving away the frequencies.

Northpoint’s political connections are no secret -- CEO Sophia Collier has been very active in the Democratic party since selling her Soho Natural Soda to Seagram Co. Ltd. for $25 million, and many among the company’s slate of franchisees have political connections.

But McCain’s request may revive concerns about political favoritism toward Northpoint.

The company said Monday that it "welcomed" the opportunity to address charges of conflicts. "Northpoint Technology is pleased to have the opportunity to address the misleading and inaccurate information that has been disseminated by our opponents, the entrenched incumbent satellite companies," the company said in a prepared statement.