When the White House announced the federal government would loan $465 million to Tesla, a California start-up company with plans to develop an all-electric sedan, President Obama called it an “historic opportunity to ensure that the next generation of fuel-efficient cars and trucks are made in America.”
The loan also represented a lucrative opportunity for Steve Westly, a major investor in the car company who had raised more than $500,000 for the president’s campaign.
In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy lent more than half a billion dollars to companies backed by Westly’s California venture capital firm. In 2010, the White House tapped Westly for a seat on a special energy advisory panel that gives him regular access to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Westly boasts on his website that his firm is “uniquely positioned” to take advantage of the Obama administration’s interest in green energy.
Congress has given the Energy Department authority to distribute billions of dollars in public funds to help stimulate the economy and seed a new generation of clean energy firms. A joint investigation by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity that will air on World News with Diane Sawyer tonight has found that Westly is just one of several political allies of the president who have ties to companies receiving chunks of that money through loans, grants, or loan guarantees.
CLICK HERE to read the Center for Public Integrity’s story on Steve Westly.
The White House’s response? Pretty typical. In other words, lies:
“Grants and loans are competitively awarded on the basis of merit,” said Reid Cherlin, a White House spokesman.
Top energy officials told ABC News the loan program took time to get rolling, but is now overseen by 175 professionals who rigorously scrutinize applicants, and attempt to get behind companies with the best hope of creating sustainable jobs.
But efforts to analyze the criteria the Energy Department has used to select the companies that have received federal loans or loan guarantees have proved challenging, even for government auditors. Last summer, the Government Accountability Office issued an unusually blunt assessment of the Energy Department’s loan program. The report concluded that the department had “treated applicants inconsistently, favoring some and disadvantaging others.”
The author of the GAO report, Franklin Rusco, told ABC News that Energy Department officials used an opaque process to select loan recipients. He said the agency could not, or would not, explain why some companies were given a quick green light for approval, while others waited years for a response.
Oh, I think we know why, GAO.
This from the administration that was going to “change” business as usual in Washington, DC. I sure hope like hell that the eventual GOP nominee for president makes sure to repeatedly point out the many shady business as usual deals like the ones reported in the ABC/CPI investigative piece while on the campaign trail and at the debates. The American people needed to be reminded close to election time just how much of a fraud our slick, polished celebrity President really is.