It was just a couple of weeks ago that the Obama campaign was still trying to spin the Solyndra debacle as a “successful and innovative” venture.
… campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said. “In fact, both Republican and Democratic administrations advanced Solyndra’s application, and the company was widely praised as successful and innovative both before and after receiving the Department of Energy loan guarantee.”
A year ago yesterday however, the administration wasn’t quite as poetic when describing the plight of the company. In an e-mail exchange involving Obama aides Dan Pfeiffer, Stephanie Cutter and David Plouffe, discussin of Solyndra’s demise prompted a one word response – “Ugh”.
Pfeiffer – “This is going to be a real pain, Solyndra is about to go under apparently.”
Cutter – “Ugh.”
What a symbolic representation of the fall of Obama’s pet solar project. The California solar company, Solyndra, once heralded by the Obama administration as a prime example of how the Recovery Act created new jobs while promoting his vision of renewable energy, closed their doors.
Obama himself spoke at the facility, praising it as “a testament to American ingenuity and dynamism.”
Once a beacon of solar light in the progressive green jobs agenda, Solyndra received a $535 million federal loan with the help of newly minted energy secretary, Steven Chu, only to find themselves staring down bankruptcy and the release of more than 1,100 workers.
What say you, Mr. President? Ugh.
Doug Ross reports on the “ugh” factor, citing a silver lining to be found in the Solyndra mess. That the company’s executives maintained respect for the taxpayers as they bilked them out of millions of dollars. And that the company remained environmentally conscious. Both of which Ross sarcastically explains – are untrue.
He adds, “Stay tuned for the musical production, Solyndr-Ugh.”
The Republican National Committee today released an e-mail from Solyndra CEO Chris Gronet from 2009, labeling the Obama administration as “The Bank of Washington” and boasting of several ways in which the company could exploit federal programs and tax breaks in order to keep the soon-to-be-doomed company afloat.
The opening of the e-mail reads:
The Bank of Washington continues to help us!
The rest of the e-mail (seen below) suggests ways to gather money from federal and state governments, and sounds eerily similar to a presentation given by Washington lobbyist Matthew Chiller. Chiller was employed by a company named CH2M Hill, and gave their employees a PowerPoint presentation on how to secure state and federal funding. The presentation provided employees with advice on congressional earmarks, and gave pointers on how to “work the earmark politically.”
What is the significance of the Solyndra/CH2M Hill relationship? My report last year outlined how CH2M Hill received nearly $10 million in stimulus funding to design Solyndra’s Fremont, California plant – a plant that exceeded $733 million just to build, and featured such amenities as Disney tune-whistling robots and elaborate spa showers for employees. Here is an excerpt from that report:
Within the $535 million loan to Solyndra were a number of sub-awards to other vendors, 40 payments of which were greater than $25,000 each. The largest sub-award went to CH2M HILL, to the tune of $9.6 million for their construction engineering services. CH2M used the nearly $10 million sub-award to design Solyndra’s solar manufacturing plant in Fremont, California.
John Corsi, the company’s Vice President of Media and Public Relations explains, “CH2M HILL performed some design services and helped with a technical engineering report.”
When asked about the price tag, Corsi stated that, “Our rates were consistent with market rates for similar work.”
He added, “This work was secured through an open, competitive, and transparent procurement process,” a contradiction to the aforementioned Washington Post report which stated that consulting firms had essentially shaped and awarded themselves pieces of the stimulus.
With millions of dollars having been secured, CH2M clearly outdid themselves on the Solyndra project, building a facility the likes that had never been seen before in the heart of Silicon Valley. The facility covers 300,000 square feet, ran a price tag of $733 million, and was equated by some to the Taj Mahal. Bloomberg News reported on some of the extravagant amenities—amenities which might surprise for a company using taxpayer funds to maintain operations.
“It wasn’t just any factory. When it was completed at an estimated cost of $733 million, including proceeds from a $535 million U.S. loan guarantee, it covered 300,000 square feet, the equivalent of five football fields. It had robots that whistled Disney tunes, spa-like showers with liquid-crystal displays of the water temperature, and glass-walled conference rooms.”
All on your dime.
While the company deflected any specific questions about building design, Corsi did state that, “The client (Solyndra) made all decisions regarding the final design specs.”
He added, “Any vetting of the relative merits of the project are the responsibility of the government.”
Another company that assisted CH2M Hill in the design of the Solyndra facility also declined comment. Erik Sueberkrop, of Studios Architecture, was on the design team for the manufacturing and office facility in Fremont, California. He stated only, “As I am not at liberty to discuss, there is no comment at this time.” The Studios website meanwhile, has scrubbed detailed links to the facility’s architecture, interior, and planning links.
While the building remained a feat of engineering, neither company saw fit to take credit now that the Solyndra scandal has broken. Each declined comment when asked to provide images or blueprints of the facility, and ignored a request to provide expense reports for the use of their stimulus money on the Solyndra project.
It would appear that both Solyndra and CH2M Hill executives did indeed work the earmark politically, and the “Bank of Washington” was more than willing to oblige.
In the wake of several Energy Department scandals it is important to analyze how taxpayer funded projects have developed, and what mistakes were made along the way. It is not a time to rush infrastructure funding in the hopes that temporary jobs will be created in an election year; it is a time to analyze where the funding is going, who is responsible for spending it, and how they will be held accountable for their actions. It is not a time to blindly grant multi-million dollar loans to companies that administration officials know will fail; it is a time to scrutinize the potential use of every dollar so they are not wasted. It is not a time for crony capitalism, but rather a time for competent capitalism.
Perhaps the case of Solyndra will serve to remind our government of a commitment to be responsible and restrained with the American people’s money.
The Boston Globe is reporting on a Massachusetts solar company that received state loans under Governor Romney, and is now filing for bankruptcy. The Globe insists that this news means that Romney’s attacks on the President’s failed Solyndra investment have backfired, and are implying that it opens up the Republican presidential contender up to charges of hypocrisy.
A Lowell-based solar technology company that received $1.5 million in state loans when Mitt Romney was governor has filed for bankruptcy, opening the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to charges of hypocrisy.
Konarka Technologies disclosed Friday that it had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and would fire its 80-member staff and liquidate its assets.
Romney has chided President Obama for investing $535 million in a different solar company that failed, and has insisted governments should not pick winners and losers in the private sector. He held a press conference at the Fremont, Calif., headquarters of that company, Solyndra, last Thursday, saying, “Free enterprise to the president means taking money from the taxpayers and giving it freely to his friends.’
The Washington Post has also chimed in, stating that this incident leaves him “vulnerable to criticism”.
What the media isn’t reporting on is some very obvious differences between the two solar ventures.
- Despite using the above quote about giving taxpayer money to his friends, the Globe fails to demonstrate any parallel with Romney, citing no evidence of Romney’s associations with Konarka. Whereas Solyndra has the George Kaiser/Obama direct relationship.
- The difference between the loans offered the two companies is vast. The $1.5 million in state loans offered Konarka represents less than 0.3% of the $535 million loan granted to Solyndra.
- Konarka paid back their loan according to CEO Howard Berke, while taxpayers will not be seeing their Solyndra investment returned anytime soon.
- Solyndra’s demise happened just over two years after receiving their hefty helping of government loans, while still under Obama’s term as President of the United States. Konarka’s bankruptcy is now being filed nearly a decade after they received their state money, and a full five years after Romney last occupied the Governor’s office in Massachusetts.
Carney is normally a wordsmith, in that he can say words in a certain order that give off the appearance of actually providing a thought.
In other words – he lies well.
But words failed Mr. Carney yesterday when he tried to explain to a reporter the main difference between Obama’s investment of taxpayer money in Solyndra, and Romney’s past investment of private money in Bain Capital.
Last thing. If that’s the argument, how is that different from Romney’s argument on Bain Capital, which is that many succeeded and a few failed?
And here is a screen capture that pretty much summarizes the ensuing explanation…
Look, there, there, there is the… the difference in that… your overall view of what your responsibilities are as president, and what your view of the economic future is. And, and the president believes, as he’s made clear, that a president’s responsibility is not just to, uh… those who win, but those who, for an example, in a company where there have been layoffs or a company that has gone bankrupt, that, you know, we have to make sure that those folks have the means to find other employment, that they have the ability to train for other kinds of work, and that’s part of the overall responsibility the president has.
Ohhhh… Now we get it.
Thanks for the clarification…
Just curious, if you or someone you know is struggling to find work, how does a statement like this make you feel? It certainly provides a significant look into the mind of a Democrat who is perfectly fine with killing 20,000 jobs in the name of some perceived and unrealistic environmental threat.
From the Hill:
Chicago Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) drew fire from Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) on Wednesday when she dismissed the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, suggesting the 20,000 jobs it could create were relatively insignificant in the scheme of the greater economy.
“Twenty thousand jobs is really not that many jobs, and investing in green technologies will produce that and more,” she said on Chicago’s WLS Radio Don Wade and Roma Show on Wednesday morning. “But I’ll tell you what, you know it seems to me that the Republicans would rather have an issue than a pipeline.”
“Tell that to the 20,000 people that woke up this morning and didn’t have a job to go to,” said Coats. “ ‘Well, these don’t really matter’ — I mean, this not only is jobs, this is less dependence on Middle East oil.”
Investing in the green jobs boondoggle will create that and more? Not sure the unemployed at Solyndra or CH2M Hill would agree.
Green energy investment has been such an overwhelming success that the unemployment rate has increased since Obama’s stimulus plan took hold, and there are now 2,000,000 fewer jobs in the U.S. today.
Is that a lot of jobs?