Sunday, September 04, 2011

The White House's latest problem

"It is wonderful to be here," declared US President Barack Obama March 26, 2010 as he spoke at Solyndra, Inc.

1 solyndra
[Image from White House video of speech -- click here for White House page.]

Barack so enjoyed his trip there, he explained, that it had him reflecting on how he and Michelle Obama had honeymooned in the area (Napa Valley) seventeen years prior.

But, as S. E. Hinton titled a book, that was then, this is now.

"George Kaiser is not an investor in Solyndra and did not participate in any discussions with the U.S. government regarding the loan," the George Kaiser Family Foundation claimed in an announcement last week.

Besides an emerging scandal for the White House, what is Solyndra? It's a company founded by Dr. Christian Gronet in 2005 which set up headquarters in Fremont, California in 2006. Gronet took part in a September 22, 2009 White House meeting that the White House scheduled off property to conceal and then billed the meeting as "ENERGY-ORIENTED SUMMIT." The visitor logs may cause some confusion because the White House says the meeting took place at the "OEOB." It took place at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building which is the building that used to be known as Old Executive Office Building.

No surprise, what took place last week isn't on the company's official timeline.

Robert Evatt (Tulsa World) reported Friday, "A spokesman for Solyndra LLC, the large, Freomont, Calif.-based solar panel maker that shut down Wednesday, said the George Kaiser Family Foundation had been an unwavering supporter of the company." Yes, that does appear to conflict with the statement George Kaiser issued Thursday. The Solyndra spokersperson is David Miller ("director of corporate communications") who is quoted stating, "The Kaiser foundation has been a tremendous backer. They were very forward-looking in their investments." And the George Kaiser Family Foundation placed their own "Steve Mitchell, managing director of Argonaut Private Equity, one of the Kaiser family's investment companies, on Solyndra's board of directors".

Among the many losing money as the company prepares to file for Chapter 11 (the filing is expected to take place shortly after Labor Day) are the US taxpayers. Matthew Mosk, Brian Ross and Ronnie Greene (ABC News and iWatch News) reported Thursday, "Prominent Republican members of the House energy committee accused the Obama administration of 'wasting' more than half a billion dollars in taxpayer money by making a federal loan guarantee to a 'troubled' solar power company that collapsed in bankruptcy Wednesday. "

How did half a billion dollars allegedy get wasted?

The White House gave the company $535 million dollars as part of the "Recovery Act."

The White House proclaimed May 26, 2010, "Today, President Obama visited Solyndra, Inc. in Fremont California -- a solar panel manufacturer that is building a new facility (and creating new jobs) thanks to funding from the Recovery Act. So far, construction of the new facility has created over 3,000 construction-related jobs and the new factory could create up to 1,000 long-term new jobs. And this is just one of countless stories that together account for the up-to-2.8 million jobs the Recovery Act is responsible for by the CBO's count. "

The $535 million was supposed to be a loan.

How did they get that loan? As Robert Evatt explains, in the company's best days (2008, a year before the loan) its estimated worth was $1 billion and in 2010 (when Barack spoke at the company) its estimated worth had fallen to $250 million or less. How do you get a loan that's more than half what your company is estimated to be worth in the best of times?

Ties to Barbara Boxer donor Christian Gronet have gone largely unexplored. But the media has shown interest in George Kaiser. C.J. Ciaramella (Daily Caller) reported Thursday:

Tulsa billionaire George Kaiser, a key Obama backer who raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for the president's election campaign, is one of Solyndra's primary investors.
Kaiser himself donated $53,500 to Obama's 2008 election campaign, split between the DSCC and Obama For America. Kaiser also made several visits to the White House and appeared at some White House events next to Obama officials.
Campaign finance records show Kaiser and Solyndra executives and board members donated $87,050 total to Obama's election campaign.

Thursday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent [PDF format warning] a letter to the Counsel to the President, Kathryn Ruemmler, "seeking documents and information regarding the role of the White House in the review of loan guarantees issued by the Department of Energy (DOE)" and the Committee stated:

We have learned from our investigation that White House officials monitored Solyndra's application, and communicated with DOE and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) officials during the course of their review in 2009 and when those officials were restructuring the Solyndra deal this year. Documents received by the Committee also show that DOE and OMB officials were aware of the White House's interest in the Solyndra loan guarantee. In addition, we are also aware that a major investor in Solyndra, George Kaiser, was a bundler for President Obama's 2008 campaign.
President Obama and other Administration officials have repeatedly touted Solyndra and its prospects in visits to its manufacturing facility and in speeches. Vice President Biden appeared via satellite at the Solyndra groundbreaking on September 4, 2009, to announce that DOE had finalized its loan guarantee to the company, stating that the Solyndra deal was "part of the unprecedented investment this Administration is making in renewable energy and exactly what the [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act] is all about." DOE Secretary Steven Chu attended the groundbreaking event as well, and stated that projects like Solyndra would be the start of the "second industrial revolution" in clean energy technology. When President Obama visited the company in may 2010 to tour its manufacturing facilities, he noted that "the true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra."

Which, again, closed its doors last week and is expected to file for bankruptcy shortly this week, leaving US tax payers to foot the bill for the $535 million loan.

How does that happen?

In May 2010, the White House insisted:

President Obama is in Fremont, California today to visit Solyndra, Inc, an innovative solar panel manufacturer that is building a new facility with funding made possible by the
Recovery Act. The direct benefits of this investment are easy to see. The plant expansion now underway has already enabled the creation of over 3,000 construction-related jobs and Solyndra estimates that the new factory could create as many as 1,000 long-term jobs in operations and supply. Likewise, a formerly empty field will soon be home to a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant that produces clean energy products that can be exported to the world.

There will be no "1,000 long-term jobs" and the "formerly empty field" will now be a field with an unused building on it. $535 million dollars wasted. $535 million tax payer dollars wasted.


Well Barack's never been the genius the press tried to make him out to be. We were never fooled. And it's been obvious from his first month in the White House that he doesn't know the first damn thing about business or the economy.

He has learned anything since then and continues to make stupid remarks. As Terry Moran observed Friday night on Nightline (ABC), "Even President Obama recently used travel agents as an example of a dying profession. But the fact is there are still 14,000 travel agencies active in the United States and 94% of them expect to make a profit this year."

So maybe it was just stupidity.

Then again, there has been a pattern of the White House rewarding their campaign supporters with US tax payer dollars over and over again.
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