From the Washington Free Beacon
CRONYISM BUILT THAT
BY: Andrew Stiles –
July 18, 2012
President Obama’s record of rewarding political donors with taxpayer dollars and plum administration posts is facing a new round of scrutiny thanks to GOP challenger Mitt Romney’s effort to make it a central issue of the campaign.
“[President Obama] thinks it’s his right to give taxpayer money to those who have supported him financially,” former Gov. John Sununu (R., N.H.) said Tuesday on a conference call hosted by the Romney campaign. “It’s insulting to hard-working entrepreneurs who really do create jobs.”
The most publicized instance of so-called “crony capitalism”—investing taxpayer dollars in firms tied to political donors—is the failed solar panel company Solyndra. The Fremont, Calif., firm was the first to receive a taxpayer-backed loan guarantee from the Department of Energy (DOE) in September 2009, worth more than $530 million. The funding for the loan was allocated in the controversial stimulus package passed earlier that year.
Obama bundler George Kaiser was a major stakeholder in Solyndra through his Kaiser Family Foundation, and made several trips to the White House in March 2009 to meet with senior administration officials. In July 2009, Kaiser bragged about securing face time with “all the key players in the West Wing of the White House,” as well as his “almost unique advantage” when it came to steering taxpayer funds toward his pet causes.
“There’s never been more money shoved out of the government’s door in world history, and probably never will be again, than in the last few months and in the next 18 months,” Kaiser told members of the Tulsa Rotary Club. “And our selfish parochial goal is to get as much as it for Tulsa and Oklahoma as we possibly can.”
Although things did not pan out for Solyndra—the company filed for bankruptcy in September 2011—Kaiser can expect to see a better return on his investment than American taxpayers. As part of an agreement to restructure Solyndra’s loan agreement in 2010, Obama’s DOE granted priority status to private investors like Kaiser with respect to the first $75 million recovered in the event of the firm’s bankruptcy, a move that many suspect violated federal law.
Taxpayers, meanwhile, are unlikely to recover much of the money invested on their behalf.
Emails uncovered by Congressional investigators reveal that Solyndra helped secure its $535 million loan guarantee with the help of Steve Spinner, another prominent Obama donor. After bundling more than $500,000 for Obama in 2008, Spinner was named to the White House transition team and later served as “chief strategic operations officer” of the DOE loan program that funded Solyndra.
Spinner’s wife Allison worked for a law firm that represented Solyndra and several other green energy outfits that applied for taxpayer funding. Records show that her firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, received $2.4 million in federal funds in legal fees associated with Solyndra’s loan application.
Spinner left the administration in September 2010 to become a senior fellow at the left-wing Center for American Progress, and has already bundled more than $500,000 for the president’s reelection campaign.
Solyndra is just one of many examples of quid pro quo in the DOE loans program; even the liberal Washington Post editorial board has described it as a “real scandal.”
“You can call it crony capitalism or venture socialism—but by whatever name, the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program privatizes profits and socializes losses,” the paper wrote in November 2011.
More than 70 percent of DOE and loans under Obama went to Democratic donors and bundlers, Peter Schweizer reported in Throw Them All Out.
A confidential 2009 memo authored by former White House economic adviser Larry Summers paints a damning picture of the administration’s approach to crafting the stimulus package.
“The short-run economic imperative was to identify as many campaign promises or high priority items that would spend out quickly and be inherently temporary,” Summers wrote. “The stimulus package is a key tool for advancing clean energy goals and fulfilling a number of campaign commitments.”
In several cases, including Solyndra, advancing the president’s green energy agenda went hand in hand with providing financial payoffs to prominent campaign donors.
California investment guru John Doerr, for example, has personally contributed more than $170,000 to Democratic campaigns and committees since 2008, and more than $2 million over the past 20 years. His investment firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), which lists former Vice President Al Gore as a partner, has given more than $1 million to Democrats since 2005.
An early and outspoken advocate for federal investment in “green” technology, Doerr was named to the president’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board in 2009, where he helped craft the $787 billion stimulus package. Of the 27 companies list in KPCB’s “green-tech” portfolio, 16 received some form of taxpayer support.
Another prominent Obama donor who has benefitted handsomely from the president’s policies is Steve Westly. A frequent guest at White House events and state dinners, Westley served as California co-chair and a National Finance Committee member of Obama’s 2008 campaign and currently sits on the DOE’s Energy Advisory Board.
He has bundled at least $700,000 in campaign donations for Obama since 2008 and personally given about $260,000 to Democratic campaigns and committees since 2007.
Westly’s investment firm, the Westly Group, had a financial stake in four green energy companies that received more than half a billion dollars in federal funding in 2009. The group’s website once touted the firm as being “uniquely positioned” to take advantage of the influx of taxpayer funding in green technology, and currently notes that “To win in the clean technology space, a company must navigate the halls of government.”
Westly has openly acknowledged that knowledge of federal policy is key to investing in green technology. In response to a reporter’s question about which green energy companies he likes to invest in, Westly said: “Who cares what I think. Let’s talk about ‘what does Obama like? Here’s what he likes,’ because here’s where the federal government is putting money. And let me tell you, whatever he likes, that’s what I like.”
One of the companies Obama “liked” was the Exelon Corporation, a Chicago-based utility and recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus funding. One of the most politically connected firms in the country, Exelon employees have made up one of President Obama’s top sources of campaign contributions throughout his career.
Exelon was Obama’s fourth-largest campaign donor when he ran for Senate in 2004, contributing more than $73,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The firm donated $326,000 to Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. The firm has ties to several top Obama bundlers, as well as to Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod and former White House chief of staff and current Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel.
As the Washington Free Beacon reported in June, an Exelon subsidiary was recently awarded a lucrative 20-year contract to install solar panels manufactured by federal inmates on government facilities.
Such cronyism is not exclusive to the green energy sector. DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has bundled at least $500,000 for Obama’s reelection campaign, and is the largest contributor to Priorities USA, the Obama-allied Super PAC.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is currently investigating whether DreamWorks made illegal payments to Chinese officials in order to secure exclusive film rights in the communist nation. The New York Times reported that Katzenberg, as well as Vice President Joe Biden, were intimately involved in negotiating an agreement under which China would up its annual quota of foreign-produced films from 20 to 34 and allow studios to keep a greater percentage of box-office revenue.
DreamWorks announced a $2 billion deal with the Chinese government in February to build a production studio in Shanghai just days after Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping held an extensive meeting with Barack Obama in Washington, D.C.
Obama’s penchant for crony capitalism, critics say, explains his comment over the weekend that “If you’ve got a business, you did not build that—somebody else made that happen.”
“He thinks that government is there to pick who should succeed and who should fail,” Sununu said on the conference call. “It’s in his political genes.”
Hmmm…..the name Exelon rings a bell. Oh yeah…..look here!
Read about it by clicking on blue lettered link below:
Exelon and its bobbleheaded CEO John Rowe
Exelon helps Obama attack coal — again!
December 8, 2010
By Steve Milloy
Chicago-based utility Exelon is now funding efforts to help out the endangered Obama EPA in its jihad against the coal industry.
Last July, the EPA proposed its so-called “Clean Air Transport” rule to further regulate air emissions from coal-fired power plants. The EPA’s alleged concern is that the emissions travel interstate and reduce air quality (fine particulate matter and ground-level ozone) in 31 downwind states.
The rule was finalized in October and is scheduled to go into effect sometime in the spring — except that some coal-burning utilities are getting concerned about the timing of the rule and there is a new sheriff in D.C. (i.e., the GOP-controlled House with power over the EPA’s budget and the inclination to investigate the EPA).
The EPA estimates that the rule will provide anywhere from $120 billion to $290 billion in annual health and welfare benefits and avoid 14,000 to 36,000 premature deaths annually. (It’s too bad that these estimates are entirely bogus, otherwise the EPA could solve our deficit problems almost singlehandedly. But that is a story for another day).
The transport rule, of course, is in addition to the EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations that take effect on January 2, 2011 and the EPA’s January 2010 proposal to further ratchet-down the national air quality standards for ground-level ozone. This is a lot of expensive anti-coal regulation that places the EPA high on the new Congress’ “to do” list. So the Obama EPA has reason to be nervous.
Riding to the EPA’s assistance now is the Pacific Economics Group which just issued a report claiming that the EPA has actually underestimated the economic harm caused by interstate transport of coal plant emissions. According to the report:
Pollution from power plants that have failed to install pollution controls is causing nearly $6 billion in annual costs, because of higher labor expenses, lost work days, lost productivity, and higher insurance costs.
As a result of uncontrolled pollution in downwind regions, between 2005 and 2012:
- Businesses will suffer over $47 billion in costs;
- Over 360,000 jobs will be lost;
- State and local governments will lose almost $9.3 billion in tax revenue; and
- Families and businesses in polluted areas will pay $26.0 billion more for reformulated gasoline as a result of ongoing pollution.
Obama’s Exelon ties, Ayers connection
August 30, 2008 >>>**Note Date!
In his February 2008 NYT article, Mike McIntire wrote:
Since 2003, executives and employees of Exelon, which is based in Illinois, have contributed at least $227,000 to Mr. Obama’s campaigns for the United States Senate and for president. Two top Exelon officials, Frank M. Clark (right), executive vice president, and John W. Rogers Jr.(left), a director, are among his largest fund-raisers.
Another Obama donor, John W. Rowe, chairman of Exelon, is also chairman of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear power industry’s lobbying group, based in Washington. Exelon’s support for Mr. Obama far exceeds its support for any other presidential candidate.
In addition, Mr. Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod, has worked as a consultant to Exelon. A spokeswoman for Exelon said Mr. Axelrod’s company had helped an Exelon subsidiary, Commonwealth Edison, with communications strategy periodically since 2002, but had no involvement in the leak controversy or other nuclear issues.
More than six months earlier, Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank wrote in the July 4, 2007 Dissident Voice:
To be sure small online donations have propelled the young senator to the top, but so too have his connections to big industry. The Obama campaign, as of late March 2007, has accepted $159,800 from executives and employees of Exelon, the nation’s largest nuclear power plant operator.
The Illinois-based company also helped Obama’s 2004 senatorial campaign. As Ken Silverstein reported in the November 2006 issue of Harper’s, ‘[Exelon] is Obama’s fourth largest patron, having donated a total of $74,350 to his campaigns.
In her May 2007 Las Vegas ReviewJournal op-ed, Erin Neff adds:
Exelon executives and employees have given $161,000 to Obama’s presidential bid. He’s received an additional $86,000 since 1998 from Exelon’s political action committee, employees and predecessor, Commonwealth Edison. Obama got money from the company in his 1998 bid for the Illinois state Senate and for his failed 2000 congressional campaign. Exelon also donated to Obama’s PAC and his successful 2004 U.S. Senate bid.
Read by clicking on blue lettered link below:
Exelon Corp. executives have pumped almost a quarter-million dollars into Obama’s Presidential campaign. The state of Illinois and the state of New York both consider ASK to be a lobbying firm. So, is Obama serious in his campaign promises, or as Ed Morrisey (2008) put it, “Is Obama’s Presidential Campaign merely another Axelrod public-relations Trojan Horse?”
Ah, but the story gets even better again.
Who became president of ComEd in 1964, served as chairman and CEO from 1973 to 1980, was the architect of ComEd’s nuclear power program in the 1960s and 1970s, and continued to exert his influence over the large utility until his death in 2007 (Napolitano, 2007)?
Who served on the boards of Sears, G.D. Searle, Chicago Pacific Corp., Zenith Corp., Northwest Industries, General Dynamics Corp. of St. Louis, First National Bank of Chicago, the Chicago Cubs and the Tribune (newspaper) Co. (Napolitano, 2007)?
Who was Chairman of the Board for the Chicago Urban League, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Erikson Institute, Bank Street College of Education in New York, Community Renewal Society, the Chicago Community Trust, and Northwestern University Board of Trustees (Napolitano, 2007)?
Who was described by his heirs as an “Agent of Change” and someone who ‘believed in change’ (Napolitano, 2007)?