The president is so convinced that outrage about the government’s $535-million loan to failed solar company Solyndra is just “partisan politics” that he assumes it will hurt him not a bit if he continues to allow folks with Solyndra ties to significantly contribute to his campaign.
Steven Spinner is the former Energy Department official who pushed for a prompt decision on the loan to Solyndra at the same time that his wife’s law firm represented the company. He’s also a major Obama fundraiser. In 2008, he raised at least half a million dollars for Obama’s campaign — and he’s at it again this cycle. The latest quarterly fundraising report from the Obama campaign showed Spinner remains a bundler at the $500,000-plus level. He also helped to plan a fundraising event the president plans to attend tomorrow in San Francisco. Spinner was on at least one conference call to brainstorm ideas for the $5,000-a-person luncheon.
But, again, Obama’s just not concerned with the optics of this:
Obama has defended the loan guarantee as having been made “on the merits.” Energy Department officials said Spinner was specifically recused from “engaging in any discussions on decisions affecting specific loan applications” because his wife’s law firm represented Solyndra. [E-mails show otherwise.]
One Democratic fundraiser said the White House wasn’t apt to worry about Spinner’s fundraising role, citing conversations with Obama advisors who regard Solyndra as a made-up controversy that Republicans are trying to exploit. With Obama facing a tough reelection fight, Spinner is among the campaign’s proven producers.
“It’s a tough fundraising climate, and they regard the Solyndra issue as just partisan politics,” said the fundraiser, who requested anonymity to speak freely.
Honestly, I’m not sure which bothers me more: The original transparently obvious pay-to-play scheme of fast-tracking an inadvisable loan to bad-bet Solyndra or the president’s continued dismissal of concern about it. Either he really thinks it’s OK to engage in crony capitalism of this sort or he really, really, really thought it was a good bet to invest in the unproven company. If the former, the episode is exactly what Republicans say it was (i.e. the furthest thing from “partisan politics” possible). If the latter, then add it to the Obama Administration Incompetence files.
Lastly, let Spinner’s contributions to the campaign stand as further evidence of something we already know: Obama cares first and foremost about his reelection. He knows it will take money to win. Sadly, with that as his goal, he’s probably right to retain Spinner. The money the guy is so successful at extracting is probably of more value to BHO than the good opinion of the few folks who’ve been following the Solyndra scandal closely. That would change, however, if more voters knew the Solyndra story, along with the stories of the administration’s other scandalous miscalculations. Sunlight, sunlight, sunlight.