Editor’s Note – Day in and day out, the Solyndra scandal just gets “curiouser and curiouser” as Alice in Wonderland calls this type of thing. Its a ‘pay-to-play’ scandal and its not the only one, or the only type of cozy relationships that garner favorable goodies. As SUA reported earlier, one look at the list we posted of the monthly statement of the Federal Finance Bank, will send you into a who’s who of the Democrat Party supporters, or ‘bundlers’, relationships between corporations, and reaping the benefits of the crony capitalism system or better said, scam. You ‘bundle’ for Obama or Pelosi, you get federal loan guarantees and more. Let’s look at a few more curious deals, then read the article below:
Colorado also features an Obama bundler whose direct investments included a solar company that received $400 million in loan guarantees from an enthusiastic and willing Obama administration.
Obama supporter Pat Stryker, who bundled $87,500 for the president in 2008, is a major investor in Abound Solar, a company that was awarded a $400 million stimulus loan. Obama even bragged about his support for the company in a July 2010 Weekly Address.
The Department of Energy on Friday hit a congressionally mandated deadline to close billions of dollars in loan guarantees, at the last minute finalizing at least $4.1 billion in loan guarantees for four solar-related projects.
“Deployment of utility-scale solar power will help bring down the cost of solar and strengthen our position as a global clean energy leader,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
Among the largest of the newly closed loan guarantees, DOE finalized two worth about $1.8 billion to Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar for solar photovoltaic projects inCalifornia that will have a capacity of 780 MW. On the same day that the company received the loan guarantees it sold the projects, but will continue to build, maintain and operate them.
There are several projects, all intertwined, and some are financed by the FFB, Goldman Sachs, Citibank and others. They are listed as Solar Partners VIII, II, and I on the FFB Statement.
“Obama Gives $737 Million Dollar Loan To Solar Company Connected To Nancy Pelosi’s Brother In Law.”
Although its parent company is facing a financial struggle, the Department of Energy maintains the future is sound for a Northern Nevada geothermal power plant that it backed with a loan guarantee, officials said Monday.
The Blue Mountain plant in Humboldt County is expected to generate enough revenue over the next 20 years to cover a $93 million loan from John Hancock Life Insurance Co., of which $79 million was guaranteed by the government, a DOE spokesman said.
The environmental group Friends of the Earth released e-mails this week revealing a cozy and collaborative relationship between TransCanada Corporation lobbyist Paul Elliott and an employee at the U.S. State Department, the agency currently weighing approval of TransCanada’s permit application for the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
A New York Times report notes that the emails show the State Department official providing “subtle coaching and cheerleading” for TransCanada:
A State Department official provided Fourth of July party invitations, subtle coaching and cheerleading, and inside information about Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton’s meetings to a Washington lobbyist for a Canadian company seeking permission from the department to build a pipeline that would carry crude from the oil sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
The emails also suggest the State Department understood that after securing approval of the pipeline, TransCanada would reverse the concessions it made in respose to safety concerns. From the Times report:
TransCanada lobbyists exchanged e-mails with State Department officials in July about their intention to drop their request to operate the Keystone XL pipeline at higher pressures than normally allowed in the United States to win political support, but then suggested they would reapply for the exception once the project had been cleared.
Beacon Power (A spin-off of SatCon Technology Corp.)
The DOE awarded the $43 million loan guarantee for a planned 20 MW plant in Stephentown, New York. According to Beacon, the U.S. Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank would fund the loan itself to cover 62.5 percent of the estimated $69 million in total project costs.
The Stephentown facility is already under construction, and Beacon says it has incurred $14 million so far in project expenditures that will count toward its $26 million cost sharing requirements under the DOE program. Beacon says it’s now, “in the process of finalizing the administrative aspects of the loan.”
Few details are known to date, but it is curious that David Prend is on the Board of Directors and is a Managing General Partner and co-founder of RockPort Capital Partners. He currently serves on the Boards of Achates Power, Aspen Aerogels, Aspen Products Group, Hycrete Technologies, InVisage Technologies, SatCon Technology Corporation, Solyndra and SustainX.
Emails raise fresh questions on Obama energy loan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An Obama administration appointee at the Energy Department pressed White House analysts to sign off on a $535 million loan to Solyndra even though his wife worked for the failed solar panel maker’s law firm, according to internal emails made public on Friday.
The revelation adds new drama to a political battle over the administration’s backing for Solyndra, which has filed for bankruptcy and has been raided by the FBI. The newly disclosed emails reveal “a disturbingly close relationship” between the White House, campaign donors and wealthy investors relating to Solyndra, a senior congressional Republican said.
The emails show frequent inquiries from Steven Spinner, who was an adviser to the Energy Department on its use of economic stimulus funding to spur clean energy technology, on the Solyndra loan, according to a report in the New York Times.
On September 29, the Energy Department had posted a “fact check” on Spinner’s involvement in the Solyndra case on its website, explaining that he started his job after the company received conditional approval for its loan application.
The department said Spinner “was recused from engaging in any discussions on decisions affecting specific loan applications in which his spouse’s law firm was involved out of concern for the appearance of a conflict of interest.”
Allison Spinner is a partner at the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, which represented Solyndra.
Energy Department spokesman Damien LaVera said on Friday that the department’s ethics officer had cleared Spinner to “oversee and monitor the progress of applications,” although he was not allowed to make decisions on loans or their terms.
LaVera added that Allison Spinner had “agreed not to participate in or receive any financial compensation from her law firm’s work on behalf of any loan program applicant.”
Allison Spinner did not work on the Solyndra matter and the firm created an “ethical wall” between her and any of its work on Energy Department issues while her husband worked for the government, according to Courtney Dorman, a spokeswoman for Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati said.
While Steve Spinner was at the department, Allison Spinner had agreed to not work on Energy Department issues for clients, and the firm did not discuss or disclose related issues or documents with her, Dorman said.
Steven and Allison Spinner did not respond to requests for comment.
‘BREATHING DOWN MY NECK’
The White House, which has aggressively defended decisions made on the loan guarantee, turned over the emails on Friday to the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, which has been probing the loan for the past eight months.
“The paper trail released by the White House portrays a disturbingly close relationship between President Obama’s West Wing inner circle, campaign donors, and wealthy investors that spawned the Solyndra mess,” Representatives Fred Upton, the panel’s chairman, and Cliff Stearns, the head of the investigation, said in a statement.
The emails show Spinner discussed the pending final decision often with Solyndra officials, Energy Department colleagues, and the White House budget office, the New York Times said.
“I have the O.V.P. and W.H. breathing down my neck on this,” Spinner wrote, referring to the office of the vice president and the White House in an email to an Energy Department loan officer.
Spinner, who advises clean tech companies in San Francisco, was an Obama fundraiser during the 2008 presidential campaign, the newspaper said.
Other emails showed top Treasury Department officials were alarmed about an Energy Department decision to restructure the company’s debt earlier this year, when it ran out of cash.
The plan allowed some $75 million in private investment to be ranked ahead of the government in the event of bankruptcy. That private fund was backed by a prominent Obama fundraiser, George Kaiser.
IN THE DARK
Mary Miller, Treasury’s assistant secretary for financial markets, emailed the White House budget director two weeks before Solyndra filed for bankruptcy, complaining the Energy Department had kept Treasury in the dark.
The loan was provided by Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank but was guaranteed and monitored by the Energy Department.
Treasury Department lawyers did not think the law allowed for the government loan to be subordinated, Miller said in an August 17 email to Jeffrey Zients, deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.
“In February, we requested in writing that DOE seek the Department of Justice’s approval of any proposed restructuring. To our knowledge, that has never happened,'” Miller said in the email, excerpts of which were provided by House Republicans.
She also complained that “DOE has not responded to any requests for information about Solyndra” despite requests dating to July 2010.
But emails provided by the administration showed that top staff at the Energy Department discussed the concerns with the chief financial officer of Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank.
“Ultimately, DOE’s determination that the restructuring was legal was made by career lawyers in the loan program based on a careful analysis of the statute,” an Energy Department spokesman said.
A Treasury spokesman declined to elaborate on the contents of Miller’s email.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has now requested Treasury turn over all documents related to the Solyndra loan guarantee.
The panel has collected tens of thousands of pages of documents from the Energy Department and White House, and has requested information from two private investors in Solyndra.
The committee has also asked the Energy Department for information on 27 other guarantees backing about $16 billion in loans. The panel is slated to hold another hearing on its findings next Friday, October 14.