The White House faced mounting political complications as a second top fundraiser for President Obama was linked to a federal loan guarantee program that backed a now-bankrupt Silicon Valley solar energy company, and as two California lawmakers called for investigations of a state tax break granted to the firm.Read the rest.
Steve Spinner, who helped monitor the Energy Department's issuance of $25 billion in government loan guarantees to renewable energy projects, was one of Obama's top fundraisers in 2008 and is raising money for the president's 2012 reelection campaign.
Spinner did not have any role in the selection of applicants for the loan program and, in fact, was recused from the decision to grant a $535-million loan guarantee to Solyndra Inc. because his wife's law firm represented the company, administration officials said Friday.
But Spinner's role as a top official in the Energy Department program, which had not been previously revealed, is likely to spur new inquiries into whether political influence played a role in the handling of the "green" energy fund. Solyndra faces a congressional probe, a criminal investigation and separate internal inquiries at the Energy and Treasury departments.
"This will fuel more questions, and now you've got real people involved at the inspector-general level who will be turning over chairs and cabinets, asking questions," said Stanley Brand, a criminal defense and ethics lawyer in Washington who has served as general counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives.
He noted that none of the details that had emerged suggested any laws had been broken. "It's embarrassing, it's ham-handed, it looks bad, but so far all we have is the White House trying to advantage itself in a political way with a loan," he said.
The largest investments in Solyndra were funds operated on behalf of the family foundation of billionaire George Kaiser, another major fundraiser for Obama in 2008. Kaiser has denied personally investing in the solar energy company or talking to White House officials about the loan.
Meanwhile, some media outlets are pretending that if you ignore this massive scandal then it apparently never happened.
This massive scandal sure looks like The Chicago Way.
This is not a new kind of politics. It's the old kind. The Chicago kind.Solyndra image via Cuffy Meigs
And now the Tribune Washington Bureau has reported that the U.S. Department of Energy employee who helped monitor the Solyndra loan guarantee was one of Obama's top fundraisers.
Fundraising? Contracts? Imagine that.
Steve Spinner was the Obama administration official in charge of handing out billions and billions of tax dollars to "green" energy deals. According to the Tribune story, Spinner the other day invited Obama's national political finance committee to a meeting in Chicago.
The name of the Obama fundraising initiative?
"Technology for Obama."
The idea of the Obama fundraisers getting together, talking "green," and perhaps offering taxpayer loan guarantees to insider businesses in the interest of helping the environment — it all seems rather fresh.
Like a mountain meadow.
Until you realize it's the same old politics, the same kind practiced in Washington and Chicago and anywhere else where appetites are satisfied by politicians. When the government picks winners and losers, who's the loser? Just look in the mirror, hold that thought, and tell me later.