Solyndra’s lawyers major Obama, Democratic donors

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Several senior lawyers at law firms that advised the now-failed solar company Solyndra from its beginnings and during the lead-up to its bankruptcy, are major donors to the Democratic Party and President Barack Obama.

During the loan guarantee approval process, law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati represented Solyndra. As the Washington Times reported, the firm skated away with $2.4 million from Solyndra’s coffers before the solar panel manufacturer went bankrupt. Taxpayers wrote that $2.4 million check via the stimulus, or the “Recovery Act.”

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Wilson Sonsini CEO John Roos bundled at least $500,000 for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign; has donated, with his wife, at least $77,500 to Democrats since 1992; and was nominated by Obama to be the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

Another law firm that netted about $1 million from taxpayers via Solyndra stimulus dollars was Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, according to the Washington Times. Mel Levine, a partner with that firm, is a former Democratic congressman from California who has already personally bundled about $200,000 for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Levine, who served as a Democrat in the U.S. House from 1983 to 1993, was a registered lobbyist as recently as 2009 and has made four personal visits to the White House, according to visitor logs.

Another partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Cantwell Muckenfuss, was the highest-contributing individual lawyer to Obama’s 2009 inauguration ceremonies, according to the American Bar Association Journal. Muckenfuss had told Legal Times he was excited that America had elected a black president.

Firm partner J. Eric Wise and business restructuring and reorganization co-chair Michael Rosenthal are advising Argonaut Solar during the Solyndra fallout. Argonaut, a venture capitalist company that billionaire Obama supporter George Kaiser uses as his investment vehicle, was the biggest Solyndra shareholder and investor.

Michael Rosenthal personally donated $2,300 to Obama in 2008, and has visited the White House on at least one occasion in 2010.

A number of senior lawyers at law firm Morrison Foerster, which raked in $1.9 million while representing the Department of Energy during the Solyndra loan guarantee deal, are loyal Democratic Party supporters as well. Since 2008, the firm’s employees have donated more than $71,000 to Democrats, including at least $12,000 directly to Obama.

Tony West, an attorney who previously worked for Morrison Foerster, bundled more than $500,000 for Obama’s 2008 election campaign, served as an Obama campaign fundraising co-chairman and got a job in the administration as the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil division.*

West’s sister-in-law, Maya Harris, is another key Obama backer, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Solyndra hired five lawyers from law firm McDermott, Will & Emery to advise it during the ongoing Congressional investigation from the House Energy and Commerce committee. Those lawyers, according to records the AM Law Daily reported on, are former Republican Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, government strategies practice head Stephen Ryan, regulatory partner David Ransom, white-collar defense partner Eugene Litvinoff and senior professional adviser Jon Decker.

Though he’s a Republican, Weld backed Obama for president in 2008. Since 2008, Ransom has donated more than $12,000 to Democrats, and firm employees have donated more than $165,000 to Obama’s campaigns altogether. The employees donated, collectively, less than $25,000 to John McCain’s 2008 bid for president.

The law firm advising Solyndra through bankruptcy, Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones, is also a major Democratic Party donor. The firm’s employees donated more than $45,000 to Vice President Joe Biden in 2008, and have collectively donated more than $13,000 to Obama.

Since 2008, firm partner Debra Grassgreen, who is currently advising Solyndra, has donated more than $6,000 to Democrats, including $2,300 to Obama. Partner Bruce Grohsgal has donated $2,000 to federal political campaigns since 2008, all going to Democrats. Partner Joshua Fried personally donated $750 to Biden in 2008. Like Grassgreen, both Grohsgal and Fried are currently advising Solyndra through bankruptcy.

Latham & Watkins, the firm that advised Solyndra through its failed attempt to make an initial public offering of stock, is also full of Democratic donors. Firm partner Steven Bauer’s wife, Denise Bauer, has committed to bundling at least $500,000 for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and in 2008 she bundled between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama.

In 2008, firm partner Peter M. Gilhuly personally bundled between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama.

All this news comes on the heels of the White House telling The Daily Caller earlier this week to seek answers about Solyndra from the Democratic National Committee, instead of answering questions itself.

*Correction: Tony West runs the Civil division of the DOJ, not the Civil Rights division.



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