Well, surprise isn’t really the correct word in this case. A better phrase would be, “To no one’s great shock …” On the heels of the Solyndra fiasco and the Fisker grant that created jobs in Finland, the Washington Post discovers that a “major fundraiser” for Barack Obama — and a member of his 2008 campaign team — ended up benefiting from $50 million in taxpayer-backed green-tech loans:
An investment firm whose vice chairman has been an adviser and fundraiser for President Obama saw one of its portfolio companies win approval this year for $50 million in loans from the administration’s clean-energy loan program.
Washington-based Perseus says its affiliation with James A. Johnson, a major fundraiser for Obama’s campaign, played no role in persuading the Energy Department to award the loan to Vehicle Production Group, a Miami start-up that is manufacturing wheelchair-accessible cars and taxis.
Johnson wasn’t just some faceless contributor to Obama’s campaign, either. As Hot Air readers might recall, Johnson played a major role in the campaign:
Johnson headed Obama’s vice presidential selection committee in 2008 and is the former chairman of housing mortgage giant Fannie Mae. He was listed as a campaign fundraising bundler for Obama in the 2008 race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and committed to raising $200,000 to $500,000 for the upcoming presidential race. …
Johnson had supported Obama as a young senator and, later, was briefly part of a three-member team leading his vice presidential search committee. But Johnson resigned in June 2008 amid revelations that he had received $7 million in deeply discounted mortgage loans from the chief executive of Countrywide, a company that had helped fuel the rise of subprime home mortgages. He said the controversy was a distraction for Obama’s campaign.
Johnson has personally donated $55,400 to Obama’s two presidential campaigns, federal donation records show, including a $35,800 check listed on Aug. 29 to Obama’s reelection effort. Pearl donated $1,500 to Obama’s campaign in 2008.
Perseus denies that Johnson had anything to do with its loan, but then again, George Kaiser denied he had anything to do with getting Solyndra its loan, too. How coincidental would it be that two men who raise money for Obama also managed to make money from Obama through subsidies at the Department of Energy?
On the other hand, Jonathan Alter argues that Obama’s tenure has been remarkably … scandal-free:
President Barack Obama goes into the 2012 with a weak economy that may doom his reelection. But he has one asset that hasn’t received much attention: He’s honest. …
Although it’s possible that the Solyndra LLC story will become a classic feeding frenzy, don’t bet on it. Providing $535 million in loan guarantees to a solar-panel maker that goes bankrupt was dumb, but so far not criminal or even unethical on the part of the administration. These kinds of stories are unlikely to derail Obama in 2012. If he loses, it will be because of the economy — period.
Even so, the president’s Teflon is intriguing. How did we end up in such a scandal-less state?
Perhaps Alter is thinking in terms of personal scandal. It’s true that Obama has done nothing to dent his reputation as a good family man while President, but it’s equally true that only one President in the past nine have had a personal-scandal problem while in the White House. In fact, since JFK’s peccadilloes came to light years after his death, one might have to go all the way back to Harding for any hint of personal scandal in the Oval Office. Saying that one has been able to clear the Bill Clinton bar is practically the definition of damning with faint praise.
However, Obama’s administration has hit at least two major scandals, and yes, Solyndra is one of them. Despite ABC’s excellent reporting on the story, Alter never even mentions George Kaiser or his fundraising on Obama’s behalf, or the curious and almost certainly illegal DoE decision to subordinate taxpayers in Kaiser’s favor, guaranteeing a total loss for taxpayers in the bankruptcy. Alter also conveniently ignores Operation Fast and Furious, which resulted in a dead Border Patrol agent and hundreds of victims in Mexico, a scandal that already has connections to the White House. In fact, his essay never mentions guns, the ATF, or anything connected to OF&F.
It’s easy to declare a politician scandal free when refusing to pay attention. Unfortunately for Obama, actual news outlets have begun looking at the connections between Obama’s green-tech subsidies and political cronies, and the media is starting to take a closer look at OF&F as well.