New DoE loans favor even more Democratic donors
posted at 12:45 pm on September 29, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
Earlier today, I noted that one of the new loans approved by the Department of Energy for green-tech stimulus just happened to favor a company with connections to Nancy Pelosi’s family. That’s not the only connection in the batch of new loan approvals from the DoE, as the Daily Caller discovered. Digging into investment records and public statements, it appears that a number of key donors will benefit from the Obama administration’s largesse — including a central figure in the collapse of Solyndra and the destruction of a half-billion dollars in taxpayer money:
The Hill newspaper reported Wednesday that the Santa Monica, Calif.-based SolarReserve has secured a $737 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy for a Nevada solar project.
That company has ties to George Kaiser, the Oklahoma billionaire who raised $53,500 for President Obama’s campaign in 2008. Through his Argonaut Private Equity firm, Kaiser holds a majority stake in Solyndra.
Argonaut has a voting stake on SolarReserve’s board of directors in the person of Steve Mitchell, who also serves on Solyndra’s board of directors.
John Rossomondo also notes the connection to Ron Pelosi at SolarReserve, but there are more connections to big Democratic donors:
Additionally, Federal Election Commission records made available by the Center for Responsive Politics show that SolarReserve board member James McDermott has contributed $61,500 to various Democratic campaigns since 2008, including $30,800 to Obama’s presidential election campaign.
McDermott’s U.S. Renewable Energy Group has a significant financial stake in SolarReserve, and has drawn scrutiny for its ties with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — and for reportedly driving green jobs to China.
And Lee Bailey, a fellow SolarReserve board member and U.S. Renewables Group investor, has donated $21,850 since 2008 to Democratic candidates including President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, California Sen. Barbara Boxer and then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
And not just at SolarReserve, either. First Solar got $2.1 billion in loan guarantees, despite it looking like a very bad investment. After its share price peaked at $170 in February, it has tumbled to $65.77 this week, which means that investors don’t see a lot of optimism for the company. In fact, that looks an awful lot like the pattern at Solyndra, where share prices dropped dramatically, alerting DoE auditors whose concerns got ignored.
Who are the investors? One is Michael Ahearn, who pulled out a $69 million stake in the company last month, obviously not as interested in betting on First Solar as the Obama administration. However, he did invest $123,000 in the Democratic Party over the last three cycles.
Then there’s SunPower, whose stock has dropped from $21 in April to $8.30 today, but who got a $1.3 billion loan guarantee from the White House. How did they qualify for this largesse?
SunPower has paid lobbyist Patrick Murphy, a close confidant of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, at least $290,000 in lobbying fees since 2009.
SunPower’s political action committee gave $15,650 to Democratic congressional candidates in 2010 and only $500 to a single Republican candidate. Reid received the largest slice of that pie, a $4,000 campaign contribution.
So we’ve paid off donors to Obama, Pelosi, and now Harry Reid. At least they’re spreading it around. Will we get our money back out of SunPower’s loan? Not according to analyst firm Morningstar, which predicts losses this year and next. Why? Like Solyndra, their internal costs are too high to compete in the market.
The DoE isn’t operating a stimulus program. It’s running a slush fund for Democratic donors.