Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) wrote a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller requesting a probe of News Corp. over allegations of invading the privacy of 9/11 victims.
Among other allegations, journalists at News Corp.’s Sunday Times of London and the Sun are accused of hacking into former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s voice mail, bank account, legal files and family medical records.
Lautenberg noted that the company, which is based in New York, could be in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars domestic companies from bribing foreign entities for business. “The limited information already reported in this case raises serious questions about the legality of the conduct of News Corporation and its subsidiaries under the FCPA,” the New Jersey Democrat wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.
“Further investigation may reveal that current reports only scratch the surface of the problem at News Corporation,” Lautenberg added, requesting that both the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission look in to whether the media company violated any U.S. laws.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) also sent a letter to Holder on Wednesday. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, joined together in their requests to Holder and SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro. Each of the Senators’ letters mentioned the 9/11 allegations.
News Corp. counts the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Co. and Fox Broadcasting Co. among its holdings. The troubled media company scrapped plans to take over British Sky Broadcasting and shut down News of the World because of allegations surrounding its journalists’ information-gathering methods.
News Corp. and its subsidiary News America spent $5.3 million last year lobbying the U.S. government on issues that included legislation that would limit the volume of televised advertisements and a proposed statute that sought to compel individuals connected to the news media to disclose certain information, according to OpenSecrets.org data.
News America shouldered the bulk of these expenses, spending more than $4 million on its internal lobbyists and $480,000 on K Street lobbyists that included Bockorny Group, Hogan Lovells, David Leach and Temple Strategies.
News Corp. wrote checks totaling $680,000 to shops that included the Fritts Group, Glover Park Group, Cormac Group, Feehery Group and Quinn Gillespie & Associates, according to OpenSecrets.org data.
If the company is the subject of a major investigation, it would likely have to retain additional counsel in Washington, as the majority of its advocacy work is done by standard lobbying groups and not hybrid lobby-law firms with a white-collar or government investigations practice.
Amanda Becker contributed to this report.
Correction: July 14, 2011
An earlier version of the article erroneously stated that Hughes Network Systems is a subsidiary of News Corp., which it no longer is. Additionally, News Corp. and News America spent $5.3 million lobbying the U.S. government last year, not $5.68 million.