Chicago Tribune columnist and longtime Obama critic John Kass blasted the administration yesterday in a column in which he reminded folks how the growing Solyndra scandal was nothing more than Business As Usual for longtime practitioners of The Chicago Way:
The Solyndra scandal cost at least a half-billion public dollars. It is plaguing President Barack Obama. And it’s being billed as a Washington story.
But back in Obama’s political hometown, those of us familiar with the Chicago Way can see something else in Solyndra — something that the Washington crowd calls “optics.” In fact, it’s not just a Washington saga — it has all the elements of a Chicago City Hall story, except with more zeros.
The FBI is investigating what happened with Solyndra, a solar panel company that got a $535 million government-backed loan with the help of the Obama White House over the objections of federal budget analysts.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden got a nice photo op. They got to make speeches about being “green.” But then Solyndra went bankrupt. Americans lost jobs. Taxpayers got stuck with the bill. And members of Congress are now in high dudgeon and making speeches.
Federal investigators want to know what role political fundraising played in the guarantee of the questionable loan. Washington bureaucrats warned the deal was lousy. And White House spokesmen flail desperately, like weakened victims in a cheesy vampire movie.
So forget optics. What about smell? It smells bad, and it’s going to smell worse.
Or, did you really believe it when the White House mouthpieces — who are also Chicago City Hall mouthpieces — promised they were bringing a new kind of politics to Washington?
This is not a new kind of politics. It’s the old kind. The Chicago kind.
And now the Tribune Washington Bureau has reported that the U.S. Department of Energy employee who helped monitor the Solyndra loan guarantee was one of Obama’s top fundraisers.
Fundraising? Contracts? Imagine that.
Steve Spinner was the Obama administration official in charge of handing out billions and billions of tax dollars to “green” energy deals. According to the Tribune story, Spinner the other day invited Obama’s national political finance committee to a meeting in Chicago.
The name of the Obama fundraising initiative?
“Technology for Obama.”
The idea of the Obama fundraisers getting together, talking “green,” and perhaps offering taxpayer loan guarantees to insider businesses in the interest of helping the environment — it all seems rather fresh.
Like a mountain meadow.
Until you realize it’s the same old politics, the same kind practiced in Washington and Chicago and anywhere else where appetites are satisfied by politicians. When the government picks winners and losers, who’s the loser? Just look in the mirror, hold that thought, and tell me later.
It’s a “way” the American people were warned about time and time again prior to the 2008 elections – mostly by pundits, commentators, political junkies, and bloggers like myself, because the MSM sure as heck wasn’t going to step up to the bat. Unfortunately a majority either didn’t listen, didn’t care, didn’t inform themselves, or didn’t want to believe the brutal truth and as a result, our celebrity President was elected. And the rest, they say, is history.
Interestingly enough, one former key player of Team Obama – Chicago Mayor Rahmbo Emanuel – is using the familiar words of the guilty when talking about Solyndra (audio here):
Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel says that he doesn’t recall the Obama administration’s loan to Solyndra, the bankrupt solar panel manufacturer that received more than $500 million in taxpayer loans and is now under investigation.
Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, told local radio station WLS that he was not going to talk about the company.
“I don’t actually remember that or know about it. So, what I’m dealing is with what I’m dealing with here today,” Emanuel told a reporter.
Pressed by the reporter on whether he thought there was appropriate due diligence on the loan, Emanuel said, “I’m talking about healthcare today.”
Emanuel was chief of staff at the White House when the loan was being considered.
But he “doesn’t remember that or know about it”? Right.
House Judiciary Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) has made a formal request to the DOJ to have an examiner investigate the loan scandal:
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) called on the Justice Department Monday to investigate a California solar firm that filed for bankruptcy in August after receiving a $535 million loan guarantee from the Obama administration.
Smith, in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder Monday, requested that the Justice Department appoint an examiner to probe the Solyndra bankruptcy case, citing an investigation by Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The GOP investigation uncovered a series of emails that Republicans say show that the White House rushed a final decision on financing so that Vice President Biden could announce approval of the loan guarantee at the September 2009 groundbreaking for the company’s new factory.
“An independent examiner is needed to shed light on the circumstances that led to DOE’s decision to extend, and later restructure, the Solyndra loan,” Smith wrote in the letter.
Smith questioned why the Energy Department’s February agreement to restructure the Solyndra loan guarantee allowed some investors to be repaid before the federal government in the event that the company declared bankruptcy.
“An independent examiner will uncover the truth about whether politics played a role in influencing the Obama administration to favor Solyndra over more financially stable loan applicants and thus ensure the integrity of the bankruptcy process for all creditors,” Smith said.
Will this go anywhere under Obama’s corrupt DOJ? Don’t hold your breath – unless you were thinking that by “go anywhere” I meant “be swept under the rug.” Same same for supposed House Democrat implied ‘eagerness’ to get answers from Solyndra execs in testimony before a Congressional panel:
Two House Democrats said Monday that they want to question investors in controversial solar panel manufacturer Solyndra Inc. about the company’s failure.
Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) wrote to the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce investigative subcommittee and asked that executives from two of Solyndra’s largest private investors, Argonaut Private Equity and Madrone Capital Partners, be called to testify at a Friday hearing on the Fremont company or at a future one.
Solyndra Chief Executive Brian Harrison and Chief Financial Officer W.G. Stover Jr. are expected to testify Friday about the failure of the company, which received a $535-million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy in 2009 as part of the Obama administration’s economic stimulus plan.
Solyndra filed for bankruptcy this month, igniting a political controversy because President Obama had touted the company as an example of a successful alternative-energy manufacturer.
Republicans charged at a hearing last week that the Obama administration rushed approval of the loan, putting taxpayer money at risk. They also said that the loan approval might have been influenced by large investments in the company by billionaire George Kaiser.
Kaiser was a major Obama fundraiser in 2008, and Argonaut is an investment fund operated on behalf of the George Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser has denied personally investing in Solyndra or talking to White House officials about the loan.
Another Obama fundraiser, Steve Spinner, helped monitor the Energy Department’s loan program for renewable energy projects. But administration officials said Spinner did not have a role in selecting applicants for the program and was recused from the Solyndra decision because his wife’s law firm represented the company.
NRO’s Greg Pollowitz, writing at the National Review “Planet Gore” blog, notes that this loan should have raised red flags long before now amongst members of Congress in both parties:
Finally, here’s a question for our valued members of Congress. We’ve [NRO] been posting on Solyndra since the date of its first loan in 2009. The fact that nobody on any oversight committee, of either party, raised any serious objection until now is a bigger problem than the Solyndra bankruptcy itself.
Dear Congrees: What you’re doing now isn’t oversight, it’s grandstanding. If you can’t find time to notice that a $535 million dollar loan doesn’t make any sense, then maybe the legislative branch of government isn’t for you.
As they say, stay tuned …
Sidenote: And isn’t it just yummy that the outgoing so-called “Dumbya administration” didn’t rubber stamp Solyndra’s pressure for a loan in January 2009, yet the Smartest Administration Evah™ ignored the “optics” and pushed for it anyway? Ed Morrissey has more details here.