In 2009, Mr. Ryan joined three Wisconsin Democrats — Mr. Kohl, Mr. Feingold and Rep. Gwen Moore — in a separate letter to Steve Rattner, who was chairman of the Department of Treasury’s auto task force.
The lawmakers reached out to Mr. Rattner at a time when a Chrysler LLC plant in Kenosha, Wis., was closing. Kenosha is in Mr. Ryan’s congressional district.
“At a time when unemployment is at an all-time high in the U.S., every effort must be made to promote American jobs and Americas’ use of tax dollars prudently,” the lawmakers told Mr. Rattner in the letter.
“We strongly encourage you to work with Chrysler to use this available funding to retool the Kenosha engine plant.”
The Boston Globe reported on the 2009 letter last month, noting that Mr. Ryan had lauded the program to help automakers retool their factories before trying to strip that same program from the government.
Soon after Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney picked Mr. Ryan as his running mate, media accounts noted that Mr. Ryan voted in favor of an auto bailout bill when most of his Republican colleagues opposed the measure.
After the 2008 vote, Mr. Ryan issued a statement that the “mounting hardships throughout Southern Wisconsin that have been downright gut-wrenching,” including the closure of a General Motors Co. plant in his hometown of Janesville.
“I’ve maintained that any assistance to the domestic auto industry should be drawn from previously approved funds from a U.S. Department of Energy loan package, rather than divert resources from a financial rescue package or rely on additional taxpayer dollars,” he said.
In his 2008 letter to Mr. Bodman, who was Energy Secretary under President Bush from 2005 to 2009, Mr. Ryan and the three Democratic lawmakers offered a host of suggested “benchmarks” for the loan program.
Older assembly plants, they wrote, should be given a higher funding preference, “thereby reducing the carbon footprint associated with new production facilities.”
In a request that would benefit struggling factories in Wisconsin, the lawmakers pushed for funding preference for facilities that received “official ceased production or closure status” and assembly plants with a large share of a community’s economic and labor base.