Biggest DoE solar-power loan guarantee went to firm that hired former Biden chief of staff

posted at 2:41 pm on June 6, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

How does one go about getting a federally-guaranteed loan for solar-power technology in the era of Hope and Change?  Well, you have to show that your company has solid fundamentals, competes on price, and can attract private financing based on … oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh out loud.  While Barack Obama tries to defend his green-tech stimulus spending and public-equity decisions, the Wall Street Journal exposes yet another political machination from the Obama administration.  The administration that once decried lobbying and its influence on government awarded the largest solar-technology loan guarantees to a firm who had to hire Vice President Joe Biden’s former chief of staff to close the deal:

The recipient of the Obama administration’s biggest loan guarantee for solar energy won federal money after an intense push in early 2011 that included hiring a former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden to lobby the administration, according to federal records and people involved in the approval process.

The lobbying blitz came as the $1.6 billion loan to BrightSource Energy Inc.—a centerpiece of the administration’s program to promote nascent green-energy projects—faced a do-or-die moment, and the company called on its Democratic connections to help push the deal forward, according to emails, records and those familiar with the loan.

The White House says … it’s just a coincidence.  Nothing to see here.  Move along:

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the Department of Energy made the loan-approval decision, not Mr. Biden nor other White House officials. A Department of Energy spokeswoman said it chose BrightSource, whose solar power plant in California continues to move ahead, based on the project’s merits.

Well, you decide. Here’s the timeline as laid out by the WSJ:

On March 9, 2011, just days after being hired, Mr. Toon went to the White House with three BrightSource executives, according to Senate and White House records. There he visited a former colleague, Alan Hoffman, now the top aide to Mr. Biden, whose office was working on green-energy programs, the records show. The White House didn’t make Mr. Hoffman available for comment.

The company’s message to the administration, according to Mr. Judge, was that by allowing the BrightSource deal to languish, “you are kind of shooting yourselves in the foot in terms of your own policy” of promoting green energy.

Mr. Toon was hired because he had previously lobbied for BrightSource contractor Bechtel Corp. and was familiar with the project, BrightSource said. Reached for comment, Mr. Toon said he couldn’t talk about clients.

Another visit came March 15, when BrightSource executives went to the White House for a meeting with the Office of Management and Budget, which also was reviewing the loan, White House records show. A top Washington energy lawyer with Perkins Coie LLP accompanied the BrightSource team.

Brightsource got the contract on April 5th.  Toon’s contract then ended.  For the single month of work, Toon got … $40,000.  Since then, Brightsource has canceled an IPO planned for two months ago because of “poor market conditions.”  Oddly, at that time the stock market was performing rather well; apparently Brightsource wasn’t.

Wasn’t this the kind of influence that Obama himself decried in 2007-8?  This was exactly the kind of transaction that “Hope and Change” was supposed to end, no?  Instead, Biden’s crony ended up with $40,000 for four weeks of work, and taxpayers funded yet another green-tech company that couldn’t survive on its own.

Speaking of green-tech stimulus, it appears that Fisker Automotive — one of the Obama administration’s high-profile recipients — has had to recall more of the handful of vehicles it has produced since getting its cash:

Fisker Automotive is recalling another 19 of its Karma luxury plug-in hybrid sedan because of a fire hazard, according to a report posted over the weekend on the Web site of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The action widened a recall undertaken in December, which affected 239 vehicles.

Fisker said 10 of the 19 additional vehicles were in the hands of consumers.

By the way, that’s nearly 2% of their total output.  ABC News reports that Fisker might now never produce any vehicles inside the US, the reason for getting the loan guarantees in the first place:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

The luxury carmaker Fisker Automotive continues to signal it could ditch plans to build its next generation hybrid electric vehicle in the United States, despite the nearly $200 million in Obama administration loan money it has already received.

Fisker received federal funds in part to help purchase a shuttered General Motors plant in Delaware, where it predicted it would one day employ 2,000 auto workers to assemble the clean-burning gas-electric family car, known as the Atlantic.

But company executives began hinting in February that it would reconsider that plan and look for a cheaper place to build the car after the Department of Energy froze the $529 million green-energy loan the company had received, and had been drawing on since 2010.

Fisker used the first $169 million in taxpayer funds to bring to market the Karma, a flashy $100,000 hybrid sports sedan that it assembles in Finland. After a series of delays and stumbles, the company announced it had sold its first 1,000 Karmas, bringing in $100 million in revenues so far this year. The sleek, high-end model has been well received by critics, and the company reported this week it has started to sell in Europe, and could soon be on sale in the Middle East.

And thankfully, drivers in Europe and the Middle East will enjoy those cars at a lower price, thanks to subsidies provided by American taxpayers that will eventually create no American jobs.

I’m not sure which is worse — the incompetence or the corruption.


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90% of loan guarantees and grants were Obooba bundlers. So, there’s that too.

Akzed on June 6, 2012 at 2:44 PM

We really need to get big money out of politics. I heard that somewhere recently, I believe from a sweating, crying, pig-eyed, leftist horse-apple…can’t remember his name though.

Bishop on June 6, 2012 at 2:44 PM

“It was a bif f’n deal” — Biden, Joe

Schadenfreude on June 6, 2012 at 2:44 PM

bif = big

Schadenfreude on June 6, 2012 at 2:45 PM

It’s the Chicago Way.

rbj on June 6, 2012 at 2:47 PM

I’m not sure which is worse — the incompetence or the corruption.

Incomptoruption.

portlandon on June 6, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Is the US too large for a comprehensive forensic audit?

playblu on June 6, 2012 at 2:48 PM

This is news? C’mon, this is what Plundercrats do.

Gordy on June 6, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Perfect pic Ed

Corruption obama style

cmsinaz on June 6, 2012 at 2:49 PM

Speaking of Culture of Corruptionshould be cranked for optimal effect

deedtrader on June 6, 2012 at 2:49 PM

The absolutely sweet and delicious unraveling of the tangled web known as liberalism….the past 2 weeks have been something special…Romney by 10 in Nov…

hillsoftx on June 6, 2012 at 2:52 PM

How does POTUS get around no formal observance of D-Day? Here is real sacrifice: http://themorningspew.com/2012/06/06/d-day-june-6-1944/

bloggless on June 6, 2012 at 2:54 PM

So you DON’T have to have a “slight” Indian accent to
get one of these loans??

ToddPA on June 6, 2012 at 2:56 PM

I’m sure that if you dig deep enough you will find many critics of the obama administration, and hard, right-wing conservatives that received huge loans and subsidies and grants.

I’m sorry. I just can’t type that with a straight face.

BTW, barack sucks.

DuctTapeMyBrain on June 6, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Azz in Chief hits the Cali beaches, 5 times, today, but never appears to commemorate this.

Schadenfreude on June 6, 2012 at 3:01 PM

All of these loan guarantees need to be investigated to determine where these taxpayer dollars ended up. It’s already been determined that these guarantees went to companies either run by or invested heavily in by Obomba bundlers. It needs to be determined if any of these funds made their way back into the Obomba campaign as “donations”.

Does anyone else smell a classic money laundering operation at work here? These loan guarantees are very likely being turned right around and being funneled right back into Obomba’s campaign slush fund.

Obomba and his cronies are as dirty as it gets. The Repubs need to start expecting the absolute worst case scenario and investigating it accordingly.

Meople on June 6, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Azz in Chief hits the Cali beaches, 5 times, today, but never appears to commemorate this.

Schadenfreude on June 6, 2012 at 3:01 PM

“Where is Omaha Beach…is that near Malibu?”

-TFGP

Bishop on June 6, 2012 at 3:06 PM

I just wonder, HOW many billions maybe trillions of taxpayers/borrowed china money has bho/mo/jarrett/joe/etc given to people they have been and are involved with to help fatten their wallets? Is there NO WAY to stop this? If not, WHY?

Please for the love of God, let us get rid of this anti-American, corrupt, forked tongue snake team out in Nov.! PLEASE!
L

letget on June 6, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Re: Fisker fire

One of the Fisker carbeques occurred here in Sugar Land about a month ago. They initially tried to pass it off as sabotage or possible insurance fraud. That fire burned a new Mercedes and an Acura NSX as well. The owner was immediately exonerated by Ft. Bend County arson investigators.

http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1076047_fisker-karma-blamed-for-causing-fire-at-houston-home

And this one had already been “fixed” to address spontaneous combustion.

DanMan on June 6, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Socialist/Communist cronyism at its best, direct from the political cesspool of Chicago.

RJL on June 6, 2012 at 3:09 PM

As my stomach turns, episode #1277. Stay tuned.

jazzuscounty on June 6, 2012 at 3:09 PM

…WHERE IS THE MSM?
C R O O K S…!!!!!!

KOOLAID2 on June 6, 2012 at 3:09 PM

FAIR SHARE!
FORWARD!!

KOOLAID2 on June 6, 2012 at 3:10 PM

How much of this will it take?

Obama learned his trade well in Chicago…

RockyJ. on June 6, 2012 at 3:12 PM

This is BIG news! I’m sure it will be above the fold in the NYT tomorrow…

I wonder what the screaming Halliburton trolls have to say about this? Of course, this is one of MANY scandals that get no light in the NFM.

kirkill on June 6, 2012 at 3:13 PM

the problem is that *many* American voters never make it through the first sentence of a story like this because they lack the understanding of what is happening.

All they know is that it continues to prove every politician is corrupt, but at least Dems will give them free goodies and such.

NavyDavy on June 6, 2012 at 3:13 PM

“Where is Omaha Obama Beach…is that near Malibu?”

-TFGP

Bishop on June 6, 2012 at 3:06 PM

more apropos, given this guy’s record…

affenhauer on June 6, 2012 at 3:17 PM

BrightSource Energy to file Chapter 11 in 5…4…3…

jukin3 on June 6, 2012 at 3:19 PM

Government acquisitions should be well documented and there should be a paper trail recording the methodology for selection, scoring for every firm that bid on this, as well as what the original requirements were prior to the bid, what the proposals looked like, etc.

Congress can look at these and compare the proposals. If the winning firm’s proposal is wildly divergent from the others (to the disadvantage of the government), then some questions need to be answered.

Otherwise, it’s just he said she said. Or you have to get evidence that the winning firm received inside information. Which is going to be hard to get.

NoDonkey on June 6, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Just say no to electric death trap conveyances.

Bishop on June 6, 2012 at 3:20 PM

that included hiring a former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden to lobby the administration, according to federal records and people involved in the approval process.

Because nothing is more intricate to the process of designing the next generation of energy production than a degree in political science.

Don’t you wingnuts know anything?

MNHawk on June 6, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Fister automotive giving it to American tax payers, thanks to the big O.

kirkill on June 6, 2012 at 3:21 PM

“Where is Omaha Beach…is that near Malibu?”

-TFGP

Bishop on June 6, 2012 at 3:06 PM

It’s between that crooked shoreline and Obiden Beach.

docflash on June 6, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Whenever a Lefty goes on and on and on about our imperative “investments” in “green” energy (“we need to be more like Spain!“, please remember the last four years of this administration.

visions on June 6, 2012 at 3:23 PM

Obama/Biden 2012: Corruption and Incompetence, On Steroids!

AZCoyote on June 6, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Disgusting. Coincidence my butt.

dogsoldier on June 6, 2012 at 3:35 PM

All of these loan guarantees need to be investigated to determine where these taxpayer dollars ended up. It’s already been determined that these guarantees went to companies either run by or invested heavily in by Obomba bundlers.

Obomba and his cronies are as dirty as it gets. The Repubs need to start expecting the absolute worst case scenario and investigating it accordingly.

It’s amazing to see some HotAir readers equate partisan blog posts with hard facts and then reach the most absurd and far-ranging conclusions.

From the same journalist who just blogged that it was great to see the Walker recall fail.

http://swampland.time.com/2012/05/31/mitt-romneys-ads-still-wrong-on-the-stimulus/

Most of the ad is typical schadenfreude about Solyndra, along with three other stimulus-funded clean-energy companies that have run into problems. For the umpteenth time: Some of these companies will fail. That’s capitalism. That’s lending. That’s life. As one Obama aide told me: Some students who get Pell grants are going to end up drunks on the street. I’ve written about this before, and I’ll write about it again, but so far there have been fewer Solyndra-type failures than Congress expected. The Energy Department’s controversial loan program has billions in excess reserves. The stimulus did not just promote one company or one technology or one pathway towards a clean-energy economy; it invested in all kinds of alternatives to fossil fuels, so they could battle it out in the marketplace. And for what it’s worth, the Bush Administration was gung-ho about the Solyndra loan, too.

bayam on June 6, 2012 at 3:58 PM

…fair share…fair share…fair share…fair share…fair share…fair share…fair share…fair share…fair share…fair share…fair share…fair share…fair shair…
P O S!

KOOLAID2 on June 6, 2012 at 3:58 PM

Once again, the ads for Romney just keep writing themselves…

DVPTexFla on June 6, 2012 at 4:02 PM

incompetence or the corruption

Incompetent corruption.

albill on June 6, 2012 at 4:28 PM

It’s “The Chicago Way”.

GarandFan on June 6, 2012 at 5:06 PM

$40,000, that’s chump change on a deal like this. On a deal of this magnitude, I would’ve paid, at minimum, an up front retainer of $100K plus $900K when the deal made.

This Toon fellow is more of a cartoon, when it comes to using his connections.

TXUS on June 6, 2012 at 5:30 PM

The bigger the Government the bigger the corruption…you can take whatever little you are allowed to have left to the bank on it.

aposematic on June 6, 2012 at 5:52 PM

All of these loan guarantees need to be investigated to determine where these taxpayer dollars ended up. It’s already been determined that these guarantees went to companies either run by or invested heavily in by Obomba bundlers. It needs to be determined if any of these funds made their way back into the Obomba campaign as “donations”…………..

Meople on June 6, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Ever see Mel Brooks’ movie, “The Producers”?

I think these “green” companies are gathering up some multiple of investment income (hightly supplemented by 0′s DOE loans), and then, oops, they go bankrupt. The “excess” investment ends up in someone’s pocket, with a chunk of it funneled back to 0 and the DNC.

Maybe my tinfoil hat is on too tight. Just a theory.

iurockhead on June 6, 2012 at 6:16 PM

The govt needs to get out of the ‘loan’ business. All of those alphabet groups that were created by EOs have got to be disbanded. This regime has taken stealing from the public coffer to an astonishing level. How anyone can still vote for these crooks is bizarre.

Kissmygrits on June 6, 2012 at 9:12 PM

incompetence or the corruption

Incompetent corruption.

albill on June 6, 2012 at 4:28 PM

Sorry, but unfortunately, corruption is the ONLY area of “governance” where BO’s administration is NOT incompetent.

climbnjump on June 6, 2012 at 9:49 PM

Once again, the ads for Romney just keep writing themselves…

DVPTexFla on June 6, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Haven’t seen one yet from Romney or the GOP. Shenanigans like this should be in a ad every day.

TulsAmerican on June 7, 2012 at 8:13 AM