Solyndra and Many More: Paying Back Political Donors

ImageMost news sources seem to have largely ignored the fact that a top investor with the now bankrupt company Solyndra was an Obama fundraising bundler. A bundler is someone who raised money for Obama during the 2008 election season through calling on their wealthy friends to donate. Billionaire George Kaiser was a 2008 Obama bundler, and also owned a substantial part of Solyndra, which he advocated for in communications with the Whitehouse and Department of Energy to secure the $535million loan—which the taxpayers will now be on the hook for.

But many Obama bundlers did not just get paid off in loans, they were given jobs. “Obama hired bundler Steve Spinner as a liaison in the Energy Department. According to internal e-mails turned over in a congressional investigation, Spinner pressed for staff members to finalize a government loan for Solyndra, the now-shuttered solar company in which another campaign bundler [George Kaiser] was a major investor.” Also, before the failure, the loan was restructured to pay back investors in the event of a bankruptcy before taxpayers—investors like George Kaiser.

Furthermore, this is not an isolated case of trouble for the Department of Energy.

Beacon Power Corp: $43 million DOE loan in 2009. “…paid cash bonuses of $259,285 to three executives”, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2011.

EnerDel: $118.5 million energy grant in 2009. “In 2009, Vice President Joe Biden hailed the lithium-ion battery system maker EnerDel’s government-funded expansion as one of the ‘100 Recovery Act Projects That Are Changing America.’ … Ener1 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2012, citing $73.9 million in assets and $90.5 million in debt.” It’s changing America all right, its bankrupting us.

“At least six Energy Department loan and grant recipients, including electric car maker Fisker Automotive, electric-car battery maker A123 Systems, and Colorado-based Abound Solar have laid off workers or suffered financially.

A123 Systems also increased its top executives’ compensation after a layoff of 125 employees [and] losses of $172 million during the first three quarters of 2011.”

Abound Solar had used about $70million of their loan guarantee by the Department of Energy before being cut off in August of 2011. They claimed to be the anti-Solyndra, but have met a similar fate after filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation and firing all 125 workers at its headquarters. Again, questions had been raised before the loan guarantee about the effectiveness of the company, its inability to retain management, and its sub-par technology compared to competitors.

And as of July 2012 another recipient of a government loan—this one for $98.5million—is on the edge of a financial cliff. Nevada Geothermal Power (NGP) was already in financial trouble when the loan was guaranteed, and many lawmakers criticized it as a bailout. But the company appears to be back on shaky ground and apparently needs another $20million to expand in order to make money. Of course Senator Harry Reid is the “Nevada Democrat who led passage of the $814 billion stimulus bill and worked to include the loan guarantee program to help finance clean-energy projects”. The CEO of NGP “denied knowing or lobbying Mr. Reid, but the House Oversight Committee said Ormat Inc., which was paid $80 million to build NGP’s Blue Mountain plant, has “strong ties” to the senator. It said two former Reid staffers, Kai Anderson and Paul Thomsen, work for Ormat.” Again, this loan appears to be a dirty payoff for friends of Senator Reid. We need to explore clean energy, but it needs to happen in the private sector to avoid political corruption that loses taxpayer money, pays off corrupt politicians’ friends, and impedes actual development of alternative energy.

The Government Accountability Office found in a recent report that the Department of Energy “skipped or poorly documented at least one step of the approval process” for 11 of 13 loan guarantees issued. The Daily Caller article continued “A 2010 audit by the GAO found that the “DOE’s implementation of the [Loan Guarantee Program] has treated applicants inconsistently, favoring some and disadvantaging others. … DOE conditionally committed to issuing loan guarantees for some projects prior to completion of external reviews required under DOE procedures.” The external reviews were then paid for by the company with the knowledge that they would eventually receive funds through the DOE issued loan. Other companies applying and being turned away were not given this opportunity, and had to finance their own external review prior to their applications consideration.

Has Obama seen this failure and taken steps to address the problem? No, he instead stated that “There were going to be some companies that did not work out… All I can say is the Department of Energy made these decisions based on their best judgments.”

Frankly Mr. President, their best judgment was not good enough. Neither was your best judgment, Mr. President when you appointed your friends to positions they were unqualified for, and gave your friends loans they were not capable of repaying.

And the newest “best judgment” from Obama: this year’s budget figures reveal that the Department of Energy will have its budget increased by 41% up to 32.3 Billion Dollars. Looks like the Obama administration is lining up a way to pay back the 2012 bundlers.  Thought you didn’t contribute to Obama’s re-election campaign? If you paid taxes you did.


5 thoughts on “Solyndra and Many More: Paying Back Political Donors

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