Solyndra: taxpayer-funded bonuses for the bankrupt — Update: subpoena issued

November 3, 2011

Remember when Congress, the MSM, and President Obama were all aghast and outraged at the bonuses paid to AIG execs after the 2008 crash?

So you can be sure they’ll be pounding the podium over bonuses paid to executives of now-bankrupt Solyndra:

Karen Alter, senior vice president of marketing, received two $55,000 bonuses on April 15 and July 8 of this year, on top of her $250,000 annual salary.

Ben Bierman, executive vice president of operations and engineering, received $120,000 in bonuses this year on top of his $276,000 salary.

Paula Camporaso, vice president of information technology — $80,000 in bonuses on top of her $107,000 salary.

Dave Sanat, vice president of supply chain — $80,000 in bonuses on top of his $111,000 salary.

Bill Stover, the company’s CFO who took the fifth before Congress at a September hearing, was awarded at least $120,000 in bonuses on top of his $367,000 salary.

The document also reveals that Chris Gronet, one of Solyndra’s founders, was “transitioned to the role of adviser and consultant” from his position as CEO on July 1, 2011, and negotiated a severance package worth more than $450,000.

I especially like paying a hundred grand in bonuses to a “marketing” exec for a company that couldn’t sell enough product to stay in business.  I bet they all had MBAs, too.

Bear in mind that Solyndra was a failing company: it was paying out more than it was taking in. The bonuses were essentially made possible by the loans Solyndra received from the Department of Energy. Even if no loan cash went directly into these bandits’ paychecks, the loans made them possible — money is fungible.

Meanwhile, as Stiles points out in the article, these clowns get to keep their money, but, thanks to the loan “deal” agreed to by the DoE, the taxpayer (that’s you and I) has a lower claim to any money recovered through a sale of Solyndra’s assets than do the private investors.

Obama is so good to his “friends!”

RELATED: Earlier posts on Solyndra.

PS: As a friend pointed out, isn’t it interesting how the various Occupy groups who are so angry at the banks have had nothing to say about the money the Obama Administration has blown on various “Green schemes?” Guess that’s different… somehow.

via Power Line, which also lists the… interesting pattern of political donations made by these executives.

UPDATE: The House Energy and Commerce Investigations subcommittee has lost patience with the White House’s stalling and has issued a subpoena for documents relating to Solyndra. (h/t Hot Air)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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#Occupy the Department of Energy! Or, loans for Russian billionaires?

October 27, 2011

I must’ve missed the memo announcing the rebirth of the Friends of Angelo program under the aegis of the Department of Energy.  Under the leadership of Secretary Chu (Like his boss, a Nobel Prize winner. Be impressed.), the DoE has fast-tracked and awarded loans with preferential terms (1) to a failing “Green” energy company, Solyndra; a “Green” car company, Fisker, which plans to make its cars in Finland, when they get around to actually making the cars; and another “Green” automaker, Tesla, which builds Gaea-friendly cars for the elite one-percent. And on which Tesla loses money.

All these loans, totaling about $1.5 billion taxpayer dollars, were doled out to companies with connections to big donors to the Democrats and Obama. (See also.)

But this one has to be the cake-topper — $730 million to a Russian billionaire:

Another controversial U.S. Department of Energy “green” loan is coming under scrutiny.

Last July the Obama administration issued a $730 million low interest “green” loan to Russia’s second largest steel company, whose chief executive is a Russian tycoon personally worth $18 billion and who has close ties to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

An influential House oversight chairman is now questioning why taxpayer funds from the Department of Energy are being used to assist the highly capitalized foreign-based steel company.

The DOE renewable energy loan was awarded this summer to Severstal North America to produce high strength steel at its Dearborn, Michigan facility. Steel is not in short supply in the United States and current U.S. steel plants are operating under capacity.

The DOE loan is part of a controversial $40 billion renewable energy loan program organized under its Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program  called ATVM.  The program is supposed to help financially starved companies in the green auto manufacturing field by providing taxpayer-supported low interest loans.

As PJM’s Richard Pollock points out, the billionaire, Alexei Mordashov, is the 29th richest man in the world. Mordashov’s company, Severstal, recently made $1.2 billion from the sale of several steel mills in Ohio and other states. He could finance Dearborn plant out of his own pocket and still have enough left over to buy his own miniature giraffe. (2)

And then there’s the question of why Severstal, a fully-capitalized company that’s neither in the auto or “Green industries,” qualifies for loans meant to help “green auto manufacturing.”

Why, if I were a cynic, I might suspect some sort of a payoff here.

Nah. I must just be a RAAAAACIST!! and a hater. Or something.

Footnote:
(1) Read: “They get the gold mine, the taxpayer gets the shaft.”
(2) I love that commercial.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


At least the Solyndra loan was wasted *in* America — Updated

October 20, 2011

Over $500 million taxpayer dollars to subsidize a “Green” car  — made in Finland:

With the approval of the Obama administration, an electric car company that received a $529 million federal government loan guarantee is assembling its first line of cars in Finland, saying it could not find a facility in the United States capable of doing the work.

Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department’s $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs. But two years after the loan was announced, the job of assembling the flashy electric Fisker Karma sports car has been outsourced to Finland.

“There was no contract manufacturer in the U.S. that could actually produce our vehicle,” the car company’s founder and namesake told ABC News. “They don’t exist here.”

Henrik Fisker said the U.S. money so far has been spent on engineering and design work that stayed in the U.S., not on the 500 manufacturing jobs that went to a rural Finnish firm, Valmet Automotive.

Money is fungible. You can bet the taxpayer-funded loan dollars spent here freed up resources to be spent in Finland.

And, gee, want to guess how this company had such an easy time getting the taxpayer-funded loan?

Connections help:

One of Fisker’s biggest financial supporters, records show, is the California venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The firm financially supports numerous green-tech firms, records show.

Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr, a California billionaire who made a fortune investing in Google, hosted President Obama at a February dinner for high-tech executives at his secluded estate south of San Francisco. Doerr and Kleiner Perkins executives have contributed more than $1 million to federal political causes and campaigns over the last two decades, primarily supporting Democrats. Doerr serves on Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Doerr has not replied to interview requests since March.

Former Vice President Al Gore is another Kleiner Perkins senior partner. Gore could not be reached for comment.

“Their major venture investor is Kleiner Perkins, who has Al Gore as a partner and is certainly politically connected in general,” said industry observer Sexton. “Whether that played a role or not is up to the DOE to explain.”

So, in return for some donations, Fisker receives several hundred times that in taxpayer-funded loan for a car that no one has even seen yet. Sweet deal, that. I’m sure the project was approved solely on the merits.

And I’m the King of Spain.

Read the whole thing. There’s another “green” car firm involved. Add in their loan, and were talking nearly a billion. Maybe theirs is at least “made in America.” And I wonder what all of Obama’s union buddies think of this?

“Chicago on the Potomac” doesn’t cover half of it.

via Sarah Palin

UPDATED: Sweet! Fisker’s gas-electric hybrid gets a whopping 20 miles per gallon in gasoline mode — less than the Chevy Volt! And for this we forked out more the $500 million. Way to go, President “We Got Every Decision Right!


It’s not illegal, it’s Chicago!

September 22, 2011

Today’s Chicago Tribune column from John Kass is a must-read:

What if lawmakers passed a bill that allowed two dozen hand-picked political insiders to fan out across the state and walk up to you and demand your cash?

Not ask but demand.

Got a problem?

There is no passion in the demand, no anger, no urgency. Just a flat look, impassive, the way a hungry hyena on the savanna looks at a herd of meek chumbolones and says, “That one.”

Or the way a butcher sizes up some hanging beef before going to work on it. Except, you’re the beef.

And after you give up the money, the guy smiles to himself and slides into a nice black Escalade. He doesn’t thank you. But he sure thanks the politicians who made it happen. He helps re-elect them, so they or their families make fortunes.

But you? You don’t get thanks. He’d no more thank you than he’d thank a dog.

Now, do you have a problem with that?

Pardon me? I didn’t hear you. So let me ask you again.

No?

Then you must be in Illinois.

Go read the whole thing, and then remember that we elected a president who cut his political teeth in that swamp.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Oh my. FBI raids bankrupt Obama-favorite Solyndra

September 8, 2011

That’s the California solar-power manufacturer that somehow managed to secure a $535 million, federally-guaranteed (1) loan through the Department of Energy at a sweetheart interest rate, even though their financial condition and business plan never warranted it. But, and I’m sure it’s a coincidence, the major shareholder is a top Obama donor and donations bundler.

And now they’re bankrupt, the investor gets reimbursed with taxpayer money, and the FBI is kicking-in the door:

Just days after the company filed for bankruptcy protection, federal agents swarmed around the Solyndra facilities in Fremont to execute a search warrant.

FBI agents were joined by officials from the Department of Energy’s Office of the Inspector General in the early morning operation.

Officials would say little about the search, which seemed to center on the Solyndra buildings on Page Avenue off Interstate 880.

“Everything is under seal,” said Julianne Sohn, a spokeswoman for the FBI.

Agents began executing their search about 7:30 a.m., Sohn said. More agents arrived in SUVs at 8:40 a.m.

The action by federal agents comes a week after the solar manufacturer abruptly closed, laying off about 1,000 workers, and two days after the company filed for bankruptcy protection.

Solyndra spokesman Dave Miller said the search came as a surprise, but he emphasized the company is “fully cooperating” with federal officials. He said he did not know the purpose of the search, but he speculated it could have something to do with the $535 million in loan guarantees the Department of Energy awarded to Solyndra.

Gee, ya think??

Read the report from ABC yesterday on the loan guarantees and unusually low interest rates for background, but here’s an excerpt that I’m sure you’ll find entertaining:

Solyndra’s most prolific financial backer is George Kaiser, an Oklahoma oil billionaire who was a bundler of campaign donations for Obama’s 2008 race. Kaiser’s Argonaut Ventures and its affiliates have been the single largest shareholder of Solyndra, according to SEC filings and other records. The company holds 39 percent of Solyndra’s parent company, bankruptcy records filed Tuesday show.

Under terms of the bankruptcy filing, investors including Argonaut — which led a $75 million round of financing for Solyndra earlier this year — will stand in line before the federal government and other creditors.

You know, I do believe I hear the House Energy Committee warming up in the wings.

Kaiser, not surprisingly, was a frequent White House visitor.

Without a doubt, this deal stinks to the heavens. Not only is it a perfect  illustration of why “green jobs” –or any uneconomic, government-subsidized industry– is a doomed-from-the-start waste of public money, but it also reeks of political favoritism, backroom deals, and downright corruption.

What was it Sarah Palin said the other day? Oh, yeah

They use [public money] to bail out their friends on Wall Street and their corporate cronies, and to reward campaign contributors, and to buy votes via earmarks. There is so much waste. And there is a name for this: It’s called corporate crony capitalism. This is not the capitalism of free men and free markets, of innovation and hard work and ethics, of sacrifice and of risk. No, this is the capitalism of connections and government bailouts and handouts, of waste and influence peddling and corporate welfare. This is the crony capitalism that destroyed Europe’s economies. It’s the collusion of big government and big business and big finance to the detriment of all the rest – to the little guys. It’s a slap in the face to our small business owners – the true entrepreneurs, the job creators accounting for 70% of the jobs in America, it’s you who own these small businesses, you’re the economic engine, but you don’t grease the wheels of government power.

And I’ll bet you my last dollar that Solyndra is a $535,000,000 example of just what she was denouncing.

Between this and Gunwalker, Obama is going to have an… “interesting” 2012.

via Zombie

RELATED: Also check out Power Line and Hot Air.

UPDATE: At Power Line, historian Steven Hayward raises an interesting possibility — What if the raid is an attempt by Holder to cover-up what happened at Solyndra and block any congressional inquiry by hiding behind the privilege of a claim of an “ongoing investigation?”

Footnote:
(1) As in, guaranteed with our money.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Workers matter to Obama. Union workers, that is…

March 7, 2011

And if you’re not in a union? Then you can expect a kick in the backside, instead of a pat on the back. It seems that while reorganizing General Motors, Treasury Secretary (and tax cheat) Timothy Geithner protected the benefits and pensions of union workers while gutting those of non-union employees:

Republican Reps. Mike Turner of Ohio and Dan Burton of Indiana are asking House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, California Republican, to dig into the Obama administration’s decision to cut more than 20,000 private-sector workers’ pensions and eliminate their health and life insurance plans during the General Motors (GM) bailout in 2009.

A spokesman for Issa’s committee told The Daily Caller the committee “remains interested” and is “looking forward” to findings from an ongoing Government Accountability Office investigation, which is expected to come out within the next couple of months. What Turner and Burton are saying happened during the GM bailout is that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner decided to cut pensions for salaried non-union employees at Delphi, a GM spinoff, to expedite GM’s emergence from bankruptcy. The problem with that, according to the congressmen, is that Geithner decided to fully fund the pensions of union workers involved in the process – including workers associated with United Auto Workers, Steelworkers and the IUE-CWA.

“This is a terrible injustice. This is a political decision, not a legal or financial decision,” Turner said in a phone interview with TheDC. “There were people who were penalized and people were chosen as winners and losers. The White House, the administration and the Auto Task Force (ATF) decided who were going to receive their pensions and who were not.”

Bear in mind that this wasn’t some sharing of the burden, no spreading the pain around (rather than the wealth). The Delphi employees saw their pensions savaged while union workers had theirs made whole — at taxpayer expense.

Further on in the article, it becomes clear that the complaint of the Delphi employees (at least those interviewed) is that they didn’t share in the largesse. While I can sympathize, to have bailed them out, too, would have been wrong. What should have happened is a GM bankruptcy that would have cleared existing contracts and brought in new management to try to restore the company to health. Yes, it would have been more painful short-term for everyone, but much better for the regional and the American economies in the long run than the current zombie corporation, which exists only as an appendage of the government.

(Oh, and bondholders wouldn’t have been strong-armed out of their rights, either.)

That said, this picking of winners and losers is another illustration of who the administration thinks its real constituents are.

Just look for the union label.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


9-11 on the rails?

September 11, 2009

It could happen; al Qaeda loves to attack mass-transit systems. Remember the Madrid train bombings and the London Tube attacks? It is as certain as he sun rising in the East that al Qaeda or some like-minded band of psychopaths will try to attack America’s rail system in order to inflict massive casualties.

Which makes news of the Obama Administration’s gutting of Amtrak’s Office of Security Strategy and Special Operations to please an allied union so comforting to learn:

Biden, in turn, is tight with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the powerful union that represents the Amtrak Police Department. According to OSSSO sources, the APD brass have been aggrieved over the non-unionized counterterrorism unit’s existence from its inception. A West Coast OSSSO team member told me that union leaders blocked police credentialing efforts by his office for more than a year. An East Coast OSSSO team member told me that the FOP recently filed a grievance against one of its counterterrorism officers for assisting a train conductor who asked for help in ejecting a ticketless passenger.

Unlike the highly-specialized officers at OSSSO, APD officers possess minimal counterterrorism training. Past studies show alarmingly low pass rates among APD patrolmen who have attended undergone basic special operations classes, according to government sources. The Amtrak FOP continues to squabble over turf with the rival Teamsters Union; its leaders can’t even agree on minimal physical fitness standards for its members that have yet to be implemented. Nevertheless, OSSSO is now under the command and control of the APD — and federal stimulus funding specifically earmarked for the counterterrorism unit has now been absorbed by the police department.

Be sure to read the whole thing. Makes you want to hop on board, doesn’t it?  Doh Nailbiting