Americans are demanding to know why the Obama administration extended a $535 million taxpayer-funded loan guarantee to Solyndra Inc. after officials in the waning days of the Bush administration unanimously vetoed the deal. Why would political appointees push career analysts, who knew the material best, to finance the troubled green energy firm whose product, solar energy panels, cost twice as much to make as their final selling price?
The answer may be simple: Valerie Jarrett.
Solyndra received the Obama administration’s first loan guarantee despite numerous red flags raised by industry and political experts.
In 2008, Fitch Ratings gave the company a B+ rating, meaning investment should be treated as “speculative.” (Spokeswoman Cindy Stoller told ABC News the company regards the mark as “a non-investment grade rating.”) PriceWaterhouseCoopers questioned its sustainability.
Career analysts had the same concerns but acted under extreme political pressure to support the government-favored business. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) felt pressured to complete the review by September 4, 2009, when Joe Biden and Energy Secretary Steven Chu hoped to attend the company’s groundbreaking ceremony. “This deal is NOT ready for prime time,” one analyst wrote in 2009. Another warned the technology was “immature.”
What accounts for the speedy approval, against the best wishes of the analysts who know the material best? Crony capitalism. ABC reports, “Federal auditors had flagged the loan, saying some applicants had benefited from special treatment.” For once, the source of this special treatment is easily identified. The George Kaiser Family Foundation controls 35.7 percent of Solyndra. George Kaiser personally bundled between $50,000-$100,000 in campaign contributions for Obama in 2008. Notoriously porous White House logs show Kaiser visited the White House (at least) four times.
On February 23, the government restructured its agreement with Solyndra to entice investors to sink another $75 million into the failing firm. The restructuring agreement provides that, in case of bankruptcy, those investors get to recoup their funds before taxpayers are repaid. Republican Congressman say this is a clear violation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which states taxpayer dollars must “not [be] subordinate to other financing.”
As such, the restructuring alone may be an impeachable offense.
Nonetheless, the administration hailed its “success” at putting people back to work. Chris Horner rightly pointed out in the American Spectator that Obama made the company “the face of the stimulus.” Then on August 31, Solyndra Inc. laid off 1,100 workers — the day after its plant started new equipment.
Structural financial problems as deep as Solyndra’s are not overlooked without pressure, and pressure does not come without the aid of important political elites.
Enter Valerie Jarrett
The George Kaiser Family Foundation maintains, although its leader met with multiple Obama officials during the loan’s negotiations, he “did not participate in any discussions with the U.S. Government [sic.] regarding the loan.”
The denial strains credulity. Whom, then, did Kaiser pressure? Who agreed to finance, then restructure, a loan for Kaiser’s baby?
Kaiser met with a number of political appointees, none more significant than Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s alter ego and closest adviser.
By all accounts Jarrett, a conduit of radicals into the White House who regularly addresses political and religious extremists, has unparalleled influence over the president. She first got Michelle Robinson Obama well ensconced in Chicago political circles during Mayor Harold Washington’s administration and has acted as an intimate confidant for both Obamas ever since. In July 2009, Obama told the New York Times, “I trust her completely…She is family.” Jarrett, President Obama confided, is entrusted “to speak for me, particularly when we’re dealing with delicate issues.” He added that he runs every decision by her. Jarrett confirmed her own behind-the-scenes power. “We have kind of a mind meld,” she said.
An Obama 2008 campaign official told the Times, “If you want [Barack Obama] to do something, there are two people he’s not going to say no to: Valerie Jarrett and Michelle Obama.”
Despite her long and well-established connection to radical left-wingers, Jarrett also heads up the administration’s “business outreach.” Kaiser would have gone to great lengths to speak to Jarrett in her capacity both as a (big) business liaison and Obama’s apparent ventriloquist.
By all accounts — both Obama’s and her own — if she gives the order, the president obeys. The only question is whether she rendered judgement that Solyndra should be funded and/or that its half-billion-dollar loan should be restructured in violation of the law.
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-LA, is currently attempting to find out who approved this subordination of the U.S. taxpayer. Kaiser’s meeting with Valerie Jarrett should the top his investigative priorities. If these clear signs of smoke lead to fire, Jarrett must be fired and her boss/servant turned out of office.