Obama’s 'Crony-Gate' Scandal Widens — Billions Now Under Scrutiny

Angelhair

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Allegations that White House aides attempted to pressure an Air Force general to alter his congressional testimony in order to aid a firm controlled by a prominent Democratic donor lent new momentum Friday to GOP complaints that “crony capitalism” contributed to the Obama stimulus programs’ failure to revive the economy.

Instead of the money being spent wisely, they suggest, billions were squandered by an administration that believed it could reward its political backers without impeding the economic recovery.

They point to the loss of over 1,100 jobs when the now-defunct solar-panel firm Solyndra, which received over half a billion dollars in federal stimulus dollars, closed its doors.

“Crony capitalism was responsible for the failure of the stimulus — about $90 billion went to clean energy,” Tom Borelli, a PhD and director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project, told Newsmax on Friday.

News that four-star Gen. William Shelton was urged to change his testimony to make it more favorable to a firm with close ties to the White House adds to the narrative of an administration singularly focused on helping its political friends.

Those allegations come in the same week as a congressional probe continued into loan guarantees given to Solyndra over the objections of Office and Management and Budget staff who warned the company had yet to demonstrate a viable business model.

President Barack Obama later hailed the Solyndra initiative as a model example of how green-energy jobs could help bail out the U.S. economy.

The Republican in charge of the Solyndra probe, Oversight and Investigations subcommittee chairman Rep. Cliff Stearns, told Newsmax Thursday that Solyndra’s “enormous amount of expenditures would mean there’s apt to be fraud, there’s apt to be shall we say, crony capitalism because a lot of people were moving too quickly and spending too much money and not carefully assessing its value and its importance to the development of the solar panel.”

Conservative think tanks and pundits are positioning Solyndra and the Shelton testimony as just the tip of a much larger problem: An administration all too eager to manipulate the levers of federal power and largess in order to reward its political supporters. Among the examples being cited:

• The dual role of GE CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt, whose corporation stood to benefit from the administration’s aggressive development of green energy at the same time he advised the administration on job growth and global competitiveness. Immelt, who has described GE’s energy-efficiency products as an $18 billion-a-year business, has been a heavy donor to both Republicans and Democrats. But Borelli says the green-energy endeavors, including GE’s, are “totally dependent” on federal support and subsidies. According to Recovery.gov, GE has received over $126 million in grants and contracts from various government departments, including $31 million from the Department of Energy.

• The Daily Caller has reported that firms associated with venture capitalist John Doerr have received over half a billion in grants and loans related to green technologies. It adds that Doerr and his wife have donated about $800,000 to Democrats since 2000, and his firm has donated a substantial amount as well. Democrats called on Doerr repeatedly to testify at congressional hearings about the economic benefits of green initiatives. In 2009, he went before Congress to call for “a bold, coordinated campaign of investment and incentives to accelerate green innovation” that he suggested would result in thousands of new jobs.

• Forbes.com columnist Larry Bell says ABC News and the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity has linked $510 million in stimulus loans and grants to green-tech companies in a portfolio owned by Steve Westly. Westly is a campaign money-bundler who reportedly raised over $500,000 for the president’s campaign. According to Bell, Westly was appointed to serve on a 12-member advisory board that would help set priorities that could impact his business interests. One firm Bell says Westly has an interested in, Tesla Motors, saw its stock jump 6% after the administration announced it would offer $7,500 federal buyer-rebates for electric-car purchases.

• Bell also cites “enigmatic circumstances” involving a $584,000 stimulus tax credit granted to Serious Materials, a small window manufacturing company. In his column Bell writes: “Robin Roy, a Serious executive, is married to Cathy Zoi, a former assistant secretary for the Energy Department’s office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) which was responsible for $16 billion in stimulus money. She was nominated for the position by the Obama administration, and Vice President Biden visited the Serious plant to praise its work.

• Bell also tells Newsmax that untold billions of stimulus funds actually went to benefit foreign companies. A new solar plant in Blythe, Calif., received a $2.1 billion stimulus grant, despite the fact that the project was awarded to a German firm, Solar Millennium and its U.S. subsidiary, Solar rust of America. Similarly, he reports the Energy Department gave out $1.45 billion in loan guarantees to Abendgoa Solar, a Spanish company building plants in California and Arizona.

On Friday, the National Center for Public Policy Research distributed an e-mail headlined: “Solyndra is only the tip of the crony capitalism iceberg.”
“Congress needs to determine if key advisors of President Obama were rewarded with stimulus money in return for political donations and support of the president’s energy policy,” says Borelli. “There is a clear relationship between recipients of economic stimulus funds and support for Obama’s clean energy agenda.”

The White House and the Energy Department have steadfastly denied any favoritism was involved in its grants and loan guarantees.

Obama
 

waltky

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Wonder if Steven Chu is any relation to Elaine Chu?...
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White House Ignored Warnings About Solyndra's Financial Health
September 16, 2011 WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration was worried about the financial health of a troubled solar energy company even as officials publicly declared the company in good shape, newly released emails show.
An email from a White House budget official to a co-worker discussed the likely effect of a default by Solyndra Inc. on President Barack Obama's re-election campaign. "The optics of a Solyndra default will be bad," an official from the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a Jan. 31 email to a senior OMB official. "The timing will likely coincide with the 2012 campaign season heating up."

The email, released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee as part of its investigation into a half-billion dollar federal loan to Solyndra, said the budget official wanted White House budget director Jacob Lew to warn Energy Secretary Steven Chu about the risk posed by Solyndra, which was once the poster child for the Obama administration's clean energy program but by early this year was teetering on collapse. At the time of the email, the Energy Department was pushing to release an additional $67 million to Solyndra. The Fremont, Calif.-based solar panel maker received a total of $528 million in federal loans before declaring bankruptcy Aug. 31 and laying off 1,100 workers.

The Silicon Valley company was the first renewable-energy company to receive a loan guarantee under the stimulus law, and the Obama administration frequently touted Solyndra as a model for its clean energy program. President Barack Obama visited the company's headquarters last year. Even as Obama declared that "the future is here" during a May 2010 visit to Solyndra, warning signs were being sent from within the government and from outside analysts who questioned the company's viability as a "going concern."

At least three reports by federal watchdogs over the past two years warned that the Energy Department had not fully developed the controls needed to manage the multibillion-dollar loan program. Emails obtained by The Associated Press show that a White House official dismissed reports about Solyndra's gloomy future. An email from Greg Nelson, a White House official who had been involved in the planning of Obama's May 2010 trip to Solyndra's headquarters, to a Solyndra executive downplayed a July 2010 news story in a trade publication that criticized the company's financial health. "Seems B.S.," Nelson wrote.

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WH Denies Involvement in Solyndra Loan, Despite E-Mails Indicating Otherwise
September 16, 2011 Washington (CNSNews.com) – The White House says it played no role in steering more than half-a-billion in taxpayer dollars to a solar panel firm that went bankrupt and is now under investigation by the FBI. But e-mails subpoenaed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee indicate the White House was eager to move quickly on the loan.
One day after the committee released the subpoenaed e-mails, White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked why the Obama administration pushed the $535 million loan to Solyndra Inc. of Fremont, Calif., despite numerous concerns expressed by career employees of the Energy Department and even the White House Office of Management and Budget. “The e-mails, as have been amply demonstrated because we provided them as part of our cooperation, had to do with trying to schedule whether or not the vice president was going to make an announcement,” Carney told reporters Thursday. “It was a scheduling issue. That was the focus of the White House’s interest.”

In various speeches since the $535-million stimulus loan to Solyndra, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have praised the energy firm as the key to the country’s economic future. One of the e-mails disclosed at the hearing was sent to the Energy Department by an assistant to then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. The email was dated Aug. 31, 2009, a few days before Biden’s scheduled speech on Sept. 4. Emanuel’s aide asked the Energy Department if “there is anything we can help speed along on OMB [Office of Management and Budget] side.”

Carney, pressed further on the matter, said, “I have to correct you, because there is no evidence that the White House was involved in the loan because they weren’t. The White House was involved in trying to find out when a decision would be made so staff here could make a decision about the vice president having an event. “As you know, and anyone who travels with us and understands the complexity of scheduling of White House events involving the two principals, the president and the vice president -- that process engages a lot of people,” Carney continued. “A whole series of decisions have to be made regarding scheduling whatever the nature of the event.”

Solyndra filed for bankruptcy early last week and laid off 1,100 employees. The FBI raided its Fremont, Calif. offices and secured warrants to search the homes of Solyndra executives. The Energy Department’s Office of Inspector General also is probing the loan. It has been widely reported that George Kaiser, who owns about one-third of Solyndra, was a major bundler for the Obama presidential campaign in 2008. Asked about Kaiser’s visits to the White House, Carney said he did not lobby for the loan. “George Kaiser himself has said he did not lobby administration officials on this,” Carney said on Thursday. “He was involved with a lot of charitable efforts.”

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waltky

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Hey, it's a good idea - trust us...
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Obama Administration Defends Jobs Record of Loan Program That Backed Solyndra
September 15, 2011 | The Energy Department is pushing back hard against reports that its $38.6 billion loan guarantee program, designed to ignite the nation's clean energy sector, has created only 3,500 permanent jobs -- despite spending half the allocated amount already and boasting it would create or save 64,000 jobs.
A spokesman for the Energy Department told FoxNews.com on Thursday that the program has created or saved 44,000 jobs since it was established under President Obama's 2009 stimulus package and is on track to meet its goal once the remaining 14 projects competing for government-backed loan guarantees are completed. The Energy Department also defended the program on a White House blog. "Over the past two years, the Department of Energy’s Loan Program has supported a robust, diverse portfolio of more than 40 projects that are investing in pioneering companies as we work to regain American leadership in the global race for clean energy jobs," Energy Department spokesman Dan Leistikow wrote.

The program has come under intense scrutiny since the first recipient, Solyndra, filed for bankruptcy last month, potentially leaving taxpayers with a half-billion-dollar tab. Federal authorities are now investigating the company. As to the jobs that are on the table -- through the 40 different projects already approved for government loan guarantees -- The Washington Post reported Thursday that only 3,545 new permanent jobs have been directly created. The Energy Department responded in its blog that the newspaper ignored 33,000 American auto jobs saved at Ford Motor Co., and more than 7,300 construction jobs for building wind and solar power plants.

"In fact, when you look at the Washington Post's graphic, you can see that the program has already created or saved roughly 44,000 jobs," Leistikow wrote. “Many of the projects it has funded are just getting going, and many of the loans won't even go out the door until the next few weeks. Others have not ramped fully up to scale. But we are on pace to achieve more than 60,000 direct jobs -- and many more in the supply chain." The Post article did mention the 33,000 figure but cited several economists casting doubt. "I always take these job estimates with a big grain of salt,” Harvard Business School professor Josh Lerner told the newspaper. “There tends to be a lot of fuzzy math when it comes to calculating these benefits (regardless of the party taking credit for the program)."

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday that President Obama stands by the program to ensure that companies don't default against bank loans. "The president remains absolutely committed to the program and the idea that we cannot cede these industries to our competitors globally," he said. "That’s not an option as the president sees it." Republicans, meanwhile are slamming the program as one designed by the administration to let government pick which firms survive. "Them deciding that their buddies in some solar company deserve half a billion dollars, that's a mistaken philosophy," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told Fox News Thursday. "That's the government choosing the winners and losers. We need to let the consumer choose the winners and losers."

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Angelhair

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Get over Bush; get over ALL the wars and billions that they cost; get over it period!!! Stop whining over what was and concentrate on saving this great nation that is on it's way to doom faster than your whining will be heard.
 

JakeStarkey

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The crony capitalism that destroyed the Bush administration, that yanked us into the Great Recession, that now will destroy the Obama administration, and that will sink Perry's candidacy ~~ the problem is clearly the amount of $$$ in the political system.

Bush, Obama, Perry ~~ they are the symptoms, crony capitalism is the cause.
 
R

rdean

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Get over Bush; get over ALL the wars and billions that they cost; get over it period!!! Stop whining over what was and concentrate on saving this great nation that is on it's way to doom faster than your whining will be heard.
Why? It's those Republican policies that have harmed the nation. Republicans want to pretend their Administration never happened.
 
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Angelhair

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Get over Bush; get over ALL the wars and billions that they cost; get over it period!!! Stop whining over what was and concentrate on saving this great nation that is on it's way to doom faster than your whining will be heard.
Why? It's those Republican policies that have harmed the nation. Republicans want to pretend their Administration never happened.
And why not since democrats have harmed the nation in many more ways and are still doing so. Pick your poison and stop looking at the USA via parties. We are ONE nation under GOD! Like it or not.
 

JakeStarkey

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Angelhair, neither party is better than the other; they have both damaged the country seriously.

If you think "party" is the answer to our national salvation, then you are not a classic liberal, because neither party is the home for the philosophy.

They have both sold out to crony capitalism.
 

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