Obama campaign inflates job numbers by 40 percent for pricey electric car

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama’s deputy campaign manager got her facts wrong while she was trying to support the administration’s $193 million subsidy for a luxury automaker.

“Hi, I’m Stephanie Cutter, I’m the deputy campaign manager here at Obama for America, and I wanted to arm you with the facts about the latest attack from ‘Big Oil,’” Cutter said in her May 2 video. “Let’s get the facts out, because it is important that you guys know the truth.”

Cutter’s speech appears to have been aimed at a new attack ad by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) that dinged Obama for sending “half a billion [dollars] to an electric car company that created hundreds of jobs … in Finland.“

That company is Fisker, whose auto-factory in Anaheim, Calif. produces a trickle of $102,000 Karma electric autos. Those autos are quite popular among Hollywood stars and other wealthy Democratic donors. The car made headlines in March when its sports car died on a Connecticut runway during a 65 mile per hour Consumer Reports test. (RELATED: ‘Karma’: $107k plug-in hybrid dies on test track, automaker got $528m US loan guarantee)

One reason for the auto’s popularity is that the Democratic-controlled California Legislature has allowed electric autos to use the state’s high-occupancy lanes, giving the wealthy owners the ability to speed away from their fellow Americans rolling slowly along the infamously clogged freeways.

But Cutter dismissed AFP’s populist money-to-Finland slam against Obama’s loan.

“Um, no,” responded Cutter. “The Department of Energy funding was specifically for U.S. jobs at U.S. facilities. Sure enough, the company is employing 700 workers in California and they’re planing to build a plant in Delaware.”

Um, no. She’s off by, um, nearly 40 percent.

In fact, the company’s California plant employs 500 people — or 200 people fewer that Cutter claims, according to data provided by Roger Ormisher, the director of global communications at Fisker.

The company’s second plant in Delaware has a “handful” of staff, he said.

The company has received $192 million in tax money and is negotiating for more, Ormisher explained. It has also raised $400 million in private-sector funding since 2011, he added.

The company took the government money without realizing it would find itself between rival political groups, he said: “We did not envisage there would be so much [political] focus on it. It’s a distraction.”

When asked if he would characterize Cutter’s error, Ormisher declined.


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Neil Munro