Politics

Biden’s DOJ Drops Decade-Long Case After Defendant Makes Massive Donation To Campaign

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.


President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice is once again raising questions about politicization after moving to dismiss a fraud case against the chairman of DISH Network following a huge financial transaction to Biden’s reelection campaign.

The New York Post reported that the suspicions were raised because the department, which rarely intervenes in such cases, stepped in after CEO Charlie Ergen and his wife donated more than $113,000 to Biden’s campaign in recent months.

The Post reported:

Ergen, a former professional poker player who helped launch what was then called EchoStar Communications in 1980, has battled the federal fraud claim for nearly a decade.

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But the Tennessee native saw his luck change shortly after he and spouse Candy contributed $100,000 to Biden’s super PAC and maxed out with matching $6,600 donations to the president’s principal campaign committee in December, according to campaign finance filings.

This past January, Dish nabbed a $50 million grant from the administration to help expand 5G coverage nationwide — the “largest award” of its kind, the company crowed — through a $1.5 billion fund created by the CHIPS and Science Act.

On Jan. 12, two days after the $50 million award was announced, attorneys at the Justice Department intervened on behalf of Dish — and “tried to bully” Vermont Telephone, which filed the fraud claim, “into an unethical settlement” by threatening to have the suit dismissed, according to lead attorney Bennett Ross.

Vermont Telephone officials have accused Biden’s DOJ of playing politics in the case.

“[I]t appears that the effect — if not the purpose — of the DOJ’s rush to seek dismissal of this case is to protect Mr. Ergen from being questioned under oath,” the company’s attorney said in a Feb. 8 letter to the lead Department of Justice attorneys involved in the case, to a copy of the letter examined by The Post said.

“We do not believe it is a coincidence that Mr. Ergen, his wife (who also is scheduled to be deposed next week), and DISH’s Political Action Committee collectively contributed in excess of $5 million to Democratic candidates and causes between 2008 and 2022,” the attorney said.

“With the upcoming election, this case looks like just the latest example of the DOJ’s two-tiered justice system under which the well-heeled, politically connected are treated one way, while everyone else is treated differently,” he said.

The government filed a motion to dismiss the case on March 8, and a decision by the judge is pending.

In 2022 and 2023, the Department of Justice’s Civil Fraud division was against interfering in the case, The Post reported.

“As far as we are aware, relators have filed approximately 4,000 [similar] actions under the False Claims Act since 2018, and the DOJ moved for dismissal in approximately 65 of those cases, which is less than two percent,” attorney Ross said to The Post.

“And in those cases where the DOJ has sought dismissal, it generally was because the case suffered from a fatal defect, which is not the case with Vermont Telephone’s claims against DISH,” he said.

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When asking the judge to dismiss the case, the Department of Justice said that “the benefits to the Government of continued litigation are marginal given the lack of evidence and the difficulty in establishing damages. Conversely, the costs to the Government (and this Court) are high as a result of extraordinary discovery.”

But Vermont Telephone’s attorney said that there is no reason to dismiss the case.

“The Defendants short-changed the government $3.3 billion, an amount that remains unpaid to this day,” he said. They also corrupted a program designed to benefit real small businesses, distorted the FCC auction process, and thwarted the deployment of wireless spectrum for the benefit of the public. The Defendants should be held accountable,” Ross noted.

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