The Washington Post reports that two start-up electric car companies “sued the U.S. Department of Energy, claiming Secretary Steven Chu and his federal agency awarded money to politically-favored firms and strung along their firms and others in a ‘fixed’ race for federal funds.”
The two lawsuits filed in federal court by the fledgling San Francisco companies echo what has become a familiar complaint since 2010 and throughout the presidential campaign: that the Obama administration’s signature investment of tens of billions of dollars in the clean energy industry frequently benefited companies who were backed by the president’s campaign donors and political allies.
The Department of Energy denies that any of these claims are true, asserting that all of the energy loans and grants were “decided on the merits” of the vying companies.
Suppose you’ve got a project for which commercial banks just won’t give you a loan because they realize that you have a poor business model and your concept isn’t likely to work. Suppose you have some political connections. Suppose the federal government is foolish enough to get your back instead. Now suppose you connect the dots.
Unfortunately, this is not a hypothetical. It’s already in the works. And the temptation for people to ask their cronies in Washington for cash is rather abounding in this country. Of course, that means taxpayers will likely be held accountable for the federal government’s follies (think Solyndra and the long list of other green energy companies that have failed — yeah, we had all their backs.)
It pays to have friends in high places. It also pays to have friends on the advisory committee of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, which we’ve exposed several times in the past for the blatant, gratuitous cronyism in which they engage and for the bank’s part in the left’s global green energy agenda.
The Washington Free Beacon reports that the Ex-Im Bank “recently steered hundreds of millions of dollars in federal loans to Spanish green energy conglomerate Abengoa.” Interestingly, Abengoa “happens to share an advisory board member with the bank.” The member is former Democratic New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.
An Ex-Im Bank spokesman said that Richardson “had no communication or role with anyone at the bank regarding this transaction.” However, Richardson is connected to Diane Farrell, a former Ex-Im Bank director who “voted to approve a final commitment on an $83 million loan to Abengoa.”
Whether or not Richardson had some degree of direct or indirect involvement in or influence on the decision to grant Abengoa these U.S. taxpayer backed loans is not entirely clear, but the optics are bad regardless. It gives weight to the narrative that the Ex-Im Bank engages in cronyism and political favoritism.
Remember back in 2008 when then-Senator Barack Obama promised to change Washington. Well, the National Journal reports President Obama will (finally) use his second term as an opportunity to tackle big lobby groups and influential interest groups. Some liberals happily suggest that he no longer has to worry about politics. Those on the right agree, and say that Obama can implement his ideological vision with a vengeance. Things are never as they seem in Washington, though.
The pro-gun and pro-Israel lobbies are his two main targets, which reflects his desire to control the private sale of arms and may also reflect on his true sentiments toward Israel. Other people can speculate about those intentions, but what we’re concerned with here is unveiling Obama’s big government agenda. He’s wily enough to know how to work the system; he simply incentivizes certain big corporations to facilitate his big-government agenda by convincing them they’ll benefit financially — and they will.
When it comes to asking for money in Washington, there is often more than meets the eye. Of course, that should come as no surprise because special interest lobbying is in this city’s DNA. What may be surprising, though, is even the aid package intended for victims of Superstorm Sandy isn’t immune from such horse trading.
PORT AUTHORITIES HIRE UP FOR SANDY RELIEF: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the congressional delegations from New York and New Jersey aren’t the only ones pushing for emergency funds for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Senate lobbying disclosures show that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey signed with Mitch Rose of Mitch Rose Strategic Consulting last month to lobby for supplemental appropriations for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. DLA Piper and Venable are among the firms that have previously lobbied on behalf of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Through September, the group had spent $150,000 on lobbying the federal government.
These pricey lobbying efforts seem remarkably out of touch, especially if the main concern here is to get emergency aid to the families that have been affected by Sandy. It’s yet another reminder that things are never what they seem in Washington.