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The Aroma Gets Stronger

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I wrote here about the potential scandal involving President Obama, the green energy company Solyndra, and Solyndra's biggest investor, George Kaiser.  Notwithstanding the FBI's apparently extensive interest in the company and its principals, I said I didn't know whether a crime had been committed.  I still don't, and the President and his aides are entitled to the presumption of innocence at this stage.

The presumption of innocence does not mean, however, that this matter cannot be viewed through the lens of common sense and experience.  Thus I found this AP story somewhat disquieting.  Its title is, Obama admin reworked Solyndra loan to favor donor.  It begins:

The Obama administration restructured a half-billion dollar federal loan to a troubled solar energy company in such a way that private investors -- including a fundraiser for President Barack Obama -- moved ahead of taxpayers for repayment in case of a default, government records show....[T]he implosion of the company and revelations that the administration hurried Office of Management and Budget officials to finish their review of the loan in time for the September 2009 groundbreaking has become an embarrassment for Obama...

Embarrassment is one thing, but this in particular is what caught my eye:

Under terms of the February loan restructuring, two private investors -- Argonaut Ventures I LLC and Madrone Partners LP -- stand to be repaid before the U.S. government if the solar company is liquidated. The two firms gave the company a total of $69 million in emergency loans. The loans are the only portion of their investments that have repayment priority above the U.S. government.

Argonaut is an investment vehicle of the George Kaiser Family Foundation of Tulsa, Okla. The foundation is headed by billionaire George Kaiser, a major Obama campaign contributor and a frequent visitor to the White House. Kaiser raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama's 2008 campaign, federal election records show. Kaiser has made at least 16 visits to the president's aides since 2009, according to White House visitor logs.

Stay tuned.


 

8 Comments

George Kaiser doesn't benefit personally by positive economic results for the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), any more than Henry Mellon Scaife benefits personally by positive investment results for the Scaife Foundation that funds CJLF. Perhaps the Obama administration was favoring Solyndra, to give a boost to KFF, to curry favor with George Kaiser, but I'm not sure that chain of supposition proves much.

Bush created the DOE program that funded Solyndra, and Solyndra applied for funds under the Bush Administration. DOE funded 40 projects, and thus far, one, Solyndra, has failed. We invest huge amounts in oil tax subsidies all the time, and directing some funds towards green energy as well makes sense. Not all of those projects are going to succeed.

As for why two investors have priority before the federal gov't, its worth looking into. I don't know if that is unusual or why they chose to structure the loan that way, and its worth getting an explanation. There either is a good explanation or there isn't one and I'm sure we will find out which it is.

If there was corruption in the selection or administration of the Solyndra loan guarantee, it should be investigated and prosecuted. Sadly, tens of billions were lost in Iraq and Afghanistan due to non and malfeasance by large defense contractors through non-bid contracts, many of whom had ties to the last administration, like Halliburton. Yet I haven't heard of criminal investigations or prosecutions of major contractors or gov't employees arising from those contracts, although they may be taking place. During WWII, Harry Truman made a name for himself investigating corruption in military contracting under a Democratic Administration. Its pretty shameful that the gov't is so thoroughly captured by corporate interests that neither this Congress, nor the last several, chose to do the same. While Solyndra is peanuts by comparison, it should be investigated, and I am glad the FBI appears to be doing so.

decencyevolves, when you say "Scaife Foundation that funds CJLF" do you mean to imply that Scaife Foundation is the principal source of funding for CJLF?

If so, what is your source for that misinformation?

If not, what do you mean?

No. You all are funded by a pea-soup of movement conservative foundations founded by right wing millionaires and billionaires, include the Sarah Scaife Foundation, although actually the funding amount from that foundation is relatively small in comparison to others:

http://old.mediatransparency.org/recipientgrants.php?recipientID=615

http://mediamattersaction.org/transparency/organization/Criminal_Justice_Legal_Foundation/funders

My point was this. However critical I was of the Bush Administration, I don't think that they would have taken action to favor a business just because the Olin Foundation, or Sarah Scaife Foundation, or Bradley Foundation invested in it, even if a family member who directed the foundation was a major contributor to the Bush campaign.

The chain of causation is pretty attenuated. The temptation to figure your political opponents are corrupt is strong. I can succumb to it myself on occasion. But I don't see a scandal yet regarding Solyndra, however hyperbolic the rhetoric may get on FOX News. Only time will tell.

Actually, I take back the "relatively small" part, now that I know that your largest funder, the Carthage Foundation, is a Scaife Foundation:

http://www.scaife.com/carthage.html

Please cite the source of your statement that CJLF's largest funder is the Carthage Foundation. The link you provided doesn't do it.

The statement is not remotely close to true, BTW, if you actually care about truth. In fact, if you had actually bothered to click on the three annual reports on the page you linked to, you would have seen that CJLF has not received any grants from Carthage since 2008, and that was not an exceptionally large one.

What is irritating about "decencyevolve's" comment is the disingenuousness of it. The reference to the Bush Administration is gratuitous in that there is nothing to suggest that the Bush Administration is at all at fault here. And the references to graft in Afghanistan/Iraq are supremely besides the point, unless you want to say that the apparent incompetence in the handling of Solyndra's application is somehow how because somewhere there is graft in the federal government.

In other words, your defense is really a non-defense and is used to take a cheap shot at CJLF.

I'm sure you are right, as you are their Legal Director. If you have annual reports available online, I am not finding it through either Google or the CJLF website, though that may be due to my own technical ignorance. The two websites I cited listed the Carthage Foundation as your largest funding source over a period of, admittedly, many years:

http://old.mediatransparency.org/recipientgrants.php?recipientID=615

http://mediamattersaction.org/transparency/organization/Criminal_Justice_Legal_Foundation

Whether it would be easier to track this kind of information if you provided information to the Better Business Bureau is a question that your organization can best answer for itself:

http://www.bbb.org/charity-reviews/national/criminal-justice-legal-foundation-in-sacramento-ca-7159

decencyevolves is correct about our having received support from the Carthage Foundation. In the years that we received annual grants from Carthage, those grants amounted to just under 4% of our annual revenue, and were not close to our largest contributor in any of our 30 operating years. Anyone who would like to inspect our tax returns (Form 990) can obtain one from us or the IRS at this link:

www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=135033,00.html

It is interesting that the cumulative totals listed for gifts to our Foundation on the Media Matters site, missed most of our major contributors, focusing instead on contributors generally identified for giving to conservative causes.

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