A Daily Caller investigation has found that in addition to the failed company Solyndra, at least four other solar panel manufacturing companies receiving in excess of $500 million in loan guarantees from the Obama administration employ executives or board members who have donated large sums of money to Democratic campaigns.
And as questions swirl around possible connections between political donations and these preferential financing arrangements, the Obama White House suddenly began deflecting The Daily Caller’s questions on Wednesday to the Democratic National Committee.
Asked Wednesday to comment on the connection between large Democratic donors and Obama administration loan guarantees to the companies they represent, the White House responded to TheDC with a single sentence: “We refer your question to the Democratic National Committee.”
Concerns about the long-term viability of Solyndra, first made public by The Daily Caller back in February, have now expanded to include the financial health of other loan-guarantee recipient firms as well.
These companies have suffered from declining stock prices despite their favored status in the White House. Yet as the end of the federal government’s fiscal year looms on Friday, a new series of loans could be finalized amounting to more than nine times what taxpayers have already lost on the failed company Solyndra.
“Who was visiting the White House during this period of time?” Texas GOP Rep. Joe Barton asked when contacted by TheDC. Barton is a former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “Who were they talking to and what were they talking about? Are there more loans at risk of not being paid back? Are these good investments or political favors?”
“The American people just lost a half billion dollars and they deserve answers to these questions before more money is wasted. Until we know exactly what happened, I think we should slow down this loan program and take a closer look at each case.”
“It is becoming more clear with each revelation that warning signs were ignored in the Solyndra case,” Barton continued. “Yet in the next 48 hours — because of a deadline that can still be changed — the Department of Energy is going to hand out another $5 billion in loans.”
Companies like First Solar, SolarReserve, SunPower Corporation and Abengoa SA have already, collectively, received billions in loans through Obama administration stimulus programs to build solar power plants in the southwestern United States.
Yet each, with the exception of the privately held SolarReserve, has seen its stock price hammered at the same time it was lobbying the Obama administration and Congress for billions in loan guarantees.
The Hill newspaper reported Wednesday that the Santa Monica, Calif.-based SolarReserve has secured a $737 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy for a Nevada solar project.
That company has ties to George Kaiser, the Oklahoma billionaire who raised $53,500 for President Obama’s campaign in 2008. Through his Argonaut Private Equity firm, Kaiser holds a majority stake in Solyndra.
Argonaut has a voting stake on SolarReserve’s board of directors in the person of Steve Mitchell, who also serves on Solyndra’s board of directors.