LAMBRO: Obama’s dirty clean-energy deals

Most green loans went to president’s cronies

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Have you seen the latest development in President Obama’s waste-ridden, clean-energy program that’s now under federal investigation at the U.S. Treasury Department?

Three of the country’s biggest residential solar-panel installers — SolarCity, SunRun and Sungevity — have been subpoenaed by Treasury’s Office of Inspector General for their financial records to determine if they had inflated the market value of their costs when they applied for federal reimbursement.

The firms have reportedly received more than $500 million in federal grants and tax credits. Officials in two of them, SolarCity and SunRun, have been among some of Mr. Obama’s most generous campaign donors.

The money these companies tapped into flowed from a $13 billion investment fund at Treasury that came from the president’s economic stimulus program, which has poured huge sums of money into clean-energy programs across the country.

Mr. Obama has sunk billions of tax dollars into a scandal-ridden swamp of other energy deals that were crafted and promoted by administration business cronies who also were among his biggest fundraisers.

After an exhaustive analysis of thousands of memos, company records and internal emails detailing Mr. Obama’s green-technology spending program, The Washington Post concluded that it was “infused with politics” at every level of the decision-making process. Political considerations dominated the White House’s deal-making and all too often overruled warnings that billions of tax dollars would be lost on shaky energy projects that should never have been approved.

Take, for example, Sanjay Wagle, a venture capitalist and one of Mr. Obama’s fundraisers in 2008. He left his firm in California to work in Mr. Obama’s Energy Department on a $40 billion spending program to stimulate the economy by investing in clean-technology companies.

It’s questionable just how much “stimulus” this money provided to the economy when unemployment is still close to 8 percent and a number of these firms went bankrupt and eventually laid off thousands of workers.

Nevertheless, over the next three years, the Energy Department officials Mr. Wagle was advising plowed $2.4 billion into clean-energy corporations that Vantage Point Venture Partners — Mr. Wagle’s former company — had invested in.

“Overall, the Post found that $3.9 billion in federal grants and financing flowed to 21 companies backed by firms with connections to five Obama administration staffers and advisers,” the newspaper reported at the time.

Those insider connections helped grease the wheels for dubious clean-energy investments that went belly up, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill on loans guaranteed by the government.

One of them was a $535 million loan to the now-bankrupt solar-panel firm Solyndra that Mr. Obama promoted against the better judgment of top budget and contract officials who warned the White House against the deal.

What has come to light so far as part of a congressional investigation is the administration’s willful order to approve a bad loan, despite dire warnings from a number of federal officials that California-based Solyndra was in deep financial trouble.

A steady stream of government emails released by a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee tells a sordid tale of a company Mr. Obama turned into an energy showcase for his $40 billion loan program — until Solyndra declared bankruptcy in August 2011, putting 1,100 employees out of work.

One of the people promoting Solyndra’s $535 million loan, which will be paid off by federal taxpayers, was Steven J. Spinner, a senior Energy Department adviser, an Obama campaign fundraiser, and a Silicon Valley investor given the job of guiding the administration’s clean-technology investments.

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