Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Investigation of defunct solar company Solyndra heats up with Executives taking the fifth in Congressional hearings

 Following the FBI's raid on the headquarters of former White House "green energy" darling Solyndra Corporation earlier this month, the scandal surrounding the half-billion-dollar government loan to the now-defunct company, (a posterchild for President Obama's promotion of “green jobs” under the almost trillion dollar 2009 “stimulus” bill), is beginning to heat up, (pun intended), with Solyndra Executives taking the fifth in Congressional testimony last Friday and new eyebrow-raising revelations that the California Democrat Party is listed as a creditor on court papers filed in the companies bankruptcy, (for details click here).  

The revelations come on the heels of the feds raid on Republican-led Gibson guitar corporation in August and the release of emails from career analysts of the Office of Management and Budget, (the government agency responsible for analyzing the financial risk to the taxpayers), expressing concerns over approving Solyndra Corp's loan request shortly before being rammed through by political appointees in the Obama Administration immediately after coming to power in 2009, (see here or here, for more on the Gibson raid see here and here).

Sadly, they further underscore what is now becoming a shockingly familiar refrain, i.e., the apparent willingness of the Obama Administration to put political interests ahead of those of the nation, (see here , here, here, here and here).

Although the Obama Administration is resisting the investigation and has yet to properly comply with a subpoena by the House Energy and Commerce Committee for more information, the evidence to date reveals that Steve Spinner, a fund raiser for the Obama campaign in the 2008 Presidential election subsequently appointed by Obama to manage the disbursement of billions of dollars in pork “stimulus” money to “green” companies, aided by no less than former White house chief of staff and now Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, actively lobbied to force the loan to Solyndra through regardless of questions over an unsustainable business model raised by career civil servants in the Energy Dept. It has also raised pointed questions about how this Administration, (as well as others in the past), “do the people's business.”

“So what does this have to do with partisan politics?” you ask. After all, the Democrats don't have a corner on the market of political cronyism and corruption. Couldn't the eagerness with which the President's men pushed through the Solyndra deal just be due to a sincere, but misguided, effort on the part of the administration to encourage/create jobs in an environmentally beneficial industry, in the same way that the Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq was premised by a sincere, yet mistaken, belief that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction?

Putting aside the conclusions of an Inspector General report that the Energy Department, (the agency through whom the “stimulus” loans were disbursed), disobeyed its own rules in order to approve the loan guarantees to Solyndra, perhaps, (download pdf of report here).

In fairness, and along those lines, we concede it is certainly true that before leaving office the Bush Administration had considered the same loan guarantees for Solyndra as was ultimately approved by the Obama Administration.

The difference is that in the end Bush heeded the advice of government analysts and decided to nix the idea before it was apparently “resurrected” after the 2008 elections for purely political short-term gain by a White House eager to reward their special-interest allies in the environmentalist movement who had donated almost 200 million to the President for his 2008 election bid with full awareness of the potential consequences of the fallout posed by a Solyndra default, (see here).

In the words of an email released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee written Jan. 31, 2011 by an Office of Management and Budget staffer, "If Solyndra defaults down the road, the optics will arguably be worse later than they would be today. … In addition, the timing will likely coincide with the 2012 campaign season heating up." (“Optics” for those uninitiated is Washington speak for “image” or "political fallout" if this risky bet of taxpayer monies were to fall through).

Nevertheless, pressure from Obama political appointees like Emanuel and Spinner to approve the deal for purely political purposes, (i.e., to allow a nice photo op at a groundbreaking ceremony with Vice President Joe Biden), was apparently unrelenting, as clearly demonstrated by an email from an Energy Department analyst who wrote, “"given the time pressure we are under to sign-off on Solyndra, we don't have time to change the model," (see here).

Additionally-- and to tie this back to our comment above regarding the Gibson guitar company-- there is one other glaring problem in interpreting the Obama Administration's actions in an innocent, (if inept), way, (which is becoming increasingly clear is entirely implausible, see below).  But just for starters:

The head of the Gibson guitar company is an on-the-record Republican, known to favor-- and personally donate to-- Republican candidates for government office. And the powers that be at Solyndra? Well, put it this way: Solyndra’s biggest shareholders were the family foundation of Tulsa billionaire and Obama fundraiser George Kaiser, and Democrats all, (as are the CEO's of America's other guitar manufacturers, with the exception of Gibson of course). Coincidence? Again, perhaps, but not likely in our estimation.  Still not convinced?

  Conveniently, Obama's Department of Energy claims to have “not kept” the emails detailing how the federal agency determined what companies would receive loan guarantee “stimulus money,” a fact noted by a Government Accountability Office report, (see report here), but the fact that agents of the Obama Administration actively attempted to circumvent a more thorough analysis in light of concerns cannot be doubted. As an editorial in the Examiner noted, “An assistant to then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel asked in yet another email if 'there is anything we can help speed along on [the Office of Management and Budget] side,' (more here).  However, the most damning information is still yet other "coincidences." 

  While the white house has been mum on to what extent the President himself may have been apprised of the extent of risk to taxpayers of the government's direct involvement via its "green agenda" loans to companies like Solyndra, (with reports that Administration officials actually took the highly unusual step of sitting in on board meetings of Solyndra for a period of time, see here), in other words, what the President knew and when did he know it, the L.A. Times reported late today that, in fact, the President was personally apprised of the risks to the plan to prop up solar companies by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and economic advisor Larry Summers nearly a year before the solar company went bankrupt, (see here and here for original L.A. Times article).

 Even more disturbing however is reports on cable giant Fox News late today that under what appears to be an unusual (and illegal!) "sweetheart deal" the Department of Energy additionally agreed before investing the taxpayer money that if, in fact, Solyndra went belly up― a prospect the President was keenly aware was probable even as the White House continued to publicly tout the Solyndra alliance as a wonderful example of a successful public/private partnership promoting the new "green economy" and supposed creator of the jobs of the future for Americans― early private investors would be entitled to recover their money first ahead of taxpayers.   And, yep, you guessed it. One of those early "investors" was a family trust fund connected to billionaire and major Obama donor George Kaiser.  So what can we conclude, indeed, what must we logically conclude?

  The end sum and inevitable conclusion is of a White House intent on pushing through for political reasons what would come to waste millions of taxpayer dollars in what it verifiably knew was an extremely risky proposition for political props, while at the same time protecting― and maybe even benefiting financially
 one of their key democratic campaign donors, (and all at taxpayer expense to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars!)

 We may not be too bright here at the ACLP, but we don't have to be to know that such an obvious "quid pro quo" for which the taxpayer was stuck holding the inevitable (and empty!) bag is malfeasance of the worst kind if ever there was!

  Now what we don't know-- dare we even to imagine?-- is whether members of the Administration, (perhaps even the President himself?), having advance knowledge of Solyndra's impending failure and having personal knowledge of his Kaiser family friends and donors so as to know of their 75 million initial investment, planned for just this outcome to occur, (i.e., knowing the bankruptcy of Solyndra was imminent a year in advance jumped into the vaunted "public/private" partnership and secured the sweetheart "early investor" provision for the sole purpose of insuring Obama's political cronies would be able to get out their initial investment in the doomed tech start up.

 We shudder to even think such could be the case, as if our speculations are even close our struggling body politic is even sicker than we thought.   Hopefully Congress will get to the bottom of this mess, (though judging from other investigations, lightsquared, fast and furious, Gibson guitar, etc. etc.) we won't hold our breath.

  In the meantime, and for fun sake, (and a honest gutcheck if you are still one of those who believes the media isn't in the tank for Obama and biased strongly left), just consider for a moment if George W. Bush had ever been accused of such a thing, (not to mention stonewalled investigators); there would have been a hew and cry from Democrats in Washington the likes of which you never saw and calls for impeachment until the Dems got blood and drove Bush 43 from town on a rail to places that would make Guantanamo Bay look like the picnic that it is! (sans prayers to Mecca five times a day and soccer for recreation).  But, so far at least, the main stream media has been extremely slow in connecting the dots of this Obama scandal, (at least publicly).  Indeed, and can you blame them when this is how they treat reporters who won't give up on getting to the bottom of this corruption and capitalist cronyism that is becoming a hallmark of this Administration? (Indeed, a simple review of how the President's men have fared financially in his first term in office is breathtaking, see here and here for details).

  Instead, and adding insult to injury, the Obama administration continues to dole out funds to other "green" pet projects while it further plans how to exploit less enlightened "environmental" minded folks for its own political and/or economic agenda.

  Indeed, even as we speak Mr. Spinner, as you'll recall from above one of Obama's chief fundraisers of 2008 and one of the main characters at the helm responsible for pushing the Solyndra deal through in the first place, has just recently announced invitation of Obama's national political finance committee to be wined and dined in Chicago at a fundraising "strategy" event dubbed “Technology for Obama,” (and the beat goes on!), making the whole sordid affair that much more difficult for us to swallow, (not to mention breathe!) in the face of a stench that would make living next to a garbage dump seem pleasant in comparison.

  Indeed, the emails released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee investigating the scandal are reminiscent of the Clinton's renting out the Lincoln Bedroom to Chinese arms dealers during their tenure, prompting at least one op-ed in Obama's hometown newspaper to liken such “hope and change” promised by the President with the old familiar ways (and smell!) of Chicago politics, (see article at Chicago Tribune by John Kass here).

  Of course, as we are a “non profit” organization prohibited from outright electioneering for or against any particular presidential candidate in the fast-approaching 2012 elections we will refrain from stating the obvious, (although others haven't, see here and here), but needless to say, we are of the opinion that such self-aggrandizing behavior at the expense of the taxpayer is NOT what we elect our leaders for, (nor, dare we say, what the American people bargained for when they elected Barack Obama President).

In that regard this sad morality tale of government corruption comes with both good and bad news.

The bad news is that there are dozens of other “green” loan guarantees to other companies totaling billions more in stimulus funds which were subsequently “approved” by the Obama administration, some of which undoubtedly have as equally dubious business plans' as Solyndra's, virtually guaranteeing that Solyndra's bankruptcy will not be the last for which the taxpayers are on the hook. 

The good news is we will have a chance to voice our opinions, and ostensible displeasure, in the 2012 elections. jp

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