Energy Department loses a casual $42 million on failed loan to green van company, no big deal

I know the general focus of the news cycle right about now is largely occupied with the unfolding foreign-policy drama of the debacle in Syria, but never fear — the many moving parts of the federal government are still busily toiling away with their relentless penchants for stupendous errors and inefficiencies, and the Department of Energy just got some sweet news about yet another project in government venture socialism. Yet another of the beneficiaries of their ghastly loan guarantee program has made it to the end of the line, and not in a good way:

The Energy Department said Friday it will lose about $42 million on a loan to a now-shuttered Michigan company that made vans for the disabled.

Vehicle Production Group, or VPG, suspended operations in February and laid off 100 workers. The company had paid back $5 million of a $50 million federal loan this spring, and the remainder of its debt was sold at auction this week to Humvee manufacturer AM General, which paid $3 million to buy the Energy Department loan.

VPG, of Allen Park, Mich., received a federal loan in 2011 under the same clean-energy program that provided a $529 million loan to electric car maker Fisker Automotive Inc. Fisker had received $192 million before a series of problems led U.S. officials to freeze the loan in 2011. The Obama administration has seized about $28 million from California-based Fisker, which has laid off three-fourths of its workers. …

‘‘After exhausting any realistic possibility for a sale that might have protected our entire investment, the department determined that auctioning the remainder of VPG’s loan obligation offered the best possible recovery for the taxpayer,’’ spokesman Bill Gibbons said in an email.

One of the most galling bits of the DOE’s loan program, however, isn’t merely that the DOE is frivolously throwing around taxpayer money in what they refer to as “investing” (when they’re actually just propping up their preferred projects based on romanticized ideology rather than competitive merit), but also that their doing so affords them so many conveniently concealable opportunities to funnel said taxpayer money to generous Democratic donors. Crony capitalism, for the win! Via the WFB:

DOE’s relationship with VPG came under scrutiny in 2011 after it was revealed that James Johnson, the former top executive at federal mortgage giant Fannie Mae and a major Obama fundraiser, chaired an investment firm, Perseus LLC, with a stake in the company.

Johnson bundled between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama’s 2008 campaign. His financial support for Obama dates back to 2003, when he donated $1,000 to his U.S. Senate campaign.

Johnson helped Obama court Clinton supporters in 2008 after a bloody Democratic primary.

He also sat on a three-person vice presidential selection panel for the campaign, though he stepped down after it was revealed that he received sweetheart mortgages from predatory lender Countywide Financial.

Both Perseus and DOE have denied that federal financing for VPG was political in nature.

Yes, because I’m sure such a thing has never even been heard of among The Most Transparent Administration, Evah.

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