A former top White House official and the head of President Obama’s personal advocacy group is joining the board of a green energy company backed by a major Democratic donor that recently received millions in federal contracts.
LanzaTech announced Wednesday that Jim Messina, Obama’s former deputy chief of staff, reelection campaign manager, and the head of his retooled campaign apparatus Organizing for Action was appointed to the company’s board of directors.
“Jim’s proven ability to merge technology, messaging, and communications in support of ideas that transcend ‘business as usual’ will help us continue our mission of reshaping how our world sources and consumes energy,” LanzaTech chief executive Jennifer Holmgren said in a news release.
One of LanzaTech’s top financiers, venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, is a major donor to the Democratic Party.
Khosla hosted Obama and three Democratic senators at his California home in June for a $32,400-per-plate fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He also donated $1 million to Democratic Super PAC Priorities USA Action in 2012.
That plan stresses the importance of the renewable fuels standard, a mandate for the inclusion of biofuels in gasoline.
The administration “is investing in research and development to help bring next-generation biofuels on line,” the Climate Action Plan states.
“Obviously, he was chosen because of his political connections, which are, alas, essential to LanzaTech, a company that wouldn’t exist without taxpayer handouts,” said William Yeatman, an energy policy expert with the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
“Presumably, the company expects Messina to keep the political goodies flowing its way,” he said in an email.
Holmgren, the company’s CEO, also served until November on a federal panel that advisesDOE and the Agriculture Department on “the technical focus and direction of requests for proposals” designed to increase biomass usage.