State-level conservative blogs and think tanks are doing the work the rest of the “mainstream media” won’t do on government big green boondoggles.
Last week, Doug mentioned the Abound Solar debacle here in my home state of Colorado.
It’s thanks to the intrepid investigative work of Colorado’s Todd Shepherd and Amy Oliver at Complete Colorado and the Independence Institute and Michael Sandoval at People’s Press Collective that this latest Department of Energy loan scandal has been exposed. Paul Chesser at the NLPC summarized:
Yet another solar company that received loan guarantees from the Department of Energy has dismissed factory workers, lopping off 70 percent of its U.S. employees. Loveland, Colo.-based Abound Solar announced Tuesday it would lay off 280 workers at its production plant near Longmont, leaving 120 still employed. The start-up (2009) company attributed the cutbacks to the need for upgrades at the plant to manufacture more efficient solar panels, with plans to restore production levels and rehire most employees within six to nine months.
“Hopefully at the end of that time period we will bring people back,” said Steve Abely, Abound’s Chief Financial Officer, to the Boulder Daily Camera.
DOE’s $400-million loan guarantee to Abound closed in December 2010, after President Obama delivered a weekly message a few months earlier hyping his jobs plan in a “clean energy economy,” in which he cited his plans for Abound[.]
Energy Secretary Steven Chu was equally boastful about the Abound loan.
“Pioneering projects like this are what will help the U.S. recapture the lead when it comes to supporting innovation in the global clean energy economy,” he said. “Not only is this investment creating thousands of jobs, but it is also increasing our renewable energy manufacturing capacity and putting us on the path for our future prosperity.”
News Web site The Complete Colorado revealed “fingerprints” of a “pay-to-play agenda” when Abound received its conditional approval in September 2010. Wealthy philanthropist Pat Stryker, whose Bohemian Companies has significant investment in Abound, donated $475,599 to federal Democrat candidates and causes over the 2008 to 2012 election cycles, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Included in that amount is $11,900 in maximum contributions to President Obama’s two campaigns for the White House. Stryker also was an $87,500 bundler for the president’s Inaugural Committee, the People’s Press Collective discovered, and donated $50,000 herself. The Sunlight Foundation reported that she gave $35,800 to the 2012 Obama Victory Fund. In October 2009 Stryker also visited a former assistant to the deputy chief of staff at the White House, Kristin Sheehy, who also hosted several visits from SEIU president Andy Stern. The purpose of Stryker’s visits is undisclosed.
Stryker is known to have contributed millions of dollars to Democrat candidates for state and federal office in her lifetime. Among those are gifts to former U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey, whose district includes the Abound facility – $9,400 made up of max contributions for her 2008 and 2010 successful runs for office. Abound helped pay for ads in 2009 that thanked Markey for voting for the cap-and-trade bill that passed the House that year, which would have benefited renewable energy companies. And according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan, Markey also pushed for approval of the loan guarantee for Abound.
“Without the loan guarantees, they would not be able to really move forward on this project,” Markey told the newspaper. “It’s seed money that’s going to be fully paid back by Abound.”
In a fresh exclusive, Complete Colorado has obtained new documents showing “that Abound Solar created an unexpected, and previously unreported 10 day production shutdown over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, and then went on to tell employees, Don’t let the rumor mill create false purposes for this shutdown.’ The shutdown was announced to employees just after Thanksgiving by company president Craig Witsoe.”
How many more?
Guess who’s reading Complete Colorado? Lots of busy bees at the White House. Hello!