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Cronyism Chronicles: The Export-Import Bank Funds Green Energy in Spain

Jan 08, 2013

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.

The Free Beacon characterizes several groups' opposition to the Ex-Im Bank thusly:

The groups, along with several conservative members of Congress, oppose the bank on the grounds that it favors large, politically connected companies and distorts markets.

That's a start. But Heritage explains that the Bank is simply a "slush fund for foreign business and domestic cronies" that "uses taxpayer resources to prop up government-favored companies."

And as our CEO, Mike Needham, and COO, Tim Chapman, expressed in 2011, there is a "corrupt nexus" between "The Bigs - Big Wall Street, Big Government, Big Labor, and Big Business" and the Washington Establishment. The Ex-Im Bank is just as complicit in Washington cronyism.

Again, Abengoa is a case in point:

Abengoa has garnered a wealth of federal subsidies and preferential treatment from the Obama administration, such as fast-tracked leasing from the Interior Department for its solar farms and loans worth $2.78 billion from the Energy and Treasury Department.

Proponents of the bank claim that it's all about job creation in America, but the bank's "dubious lending practices" are an affront to the free market and present an ongoing risk to taxpayers (think Fannie Mae). There is no shortage of evidence that "government-favored companies are bad investments." Pulling resources from taxpayers does not create jobs or improve trade. Redirecting resources to the cronies of powerful politicians and Ex-Im Bank board members is not synonymous with job creation; it just greases the wheels of the powerful and often corrupt big Washington Establishment.