This a portion of a much longer article entitled “Podesta Power and Center for American Progress: The dark, driving force behind the president’s massive green energy scheme“, published on March 3, 2014. While the original Green Team has now left for greener pastures, their example is still instructive of how things work in the rarified Green strata.
The Center for American Progress, CAP, the progressive think tank with deep rooted ties to the Clintons, has been on my radar since 2010, and periodically mentioned throughout my work. As noted already, they are closely aligned with, and have a major foothold inside the Obama White House. This is not limited to the new CAP additions: Denis McDonough, White House Chief of Staff and Obama’s new advisor, John Podesta.
What’s been forgotten is that a squadron of CAP experts worked with President Obama’s transition team, and they have been “reportedly highly influential in helping to craft White House Policy.” In 2008, Edwin Chen of Bloomberg, in his article, “Soros-Funded Democratic Idea Factory Becomes Obama Policy Font,” noted “CAP, which has 180 staffers and a $27 million budget, devotes as much as half of its resources to promoting its ideas through blogs [ThinkProgress and the Wonk Room], events, publications and media outreach.”
In fact CAP boasts of John Podesta’s part: “Podesta served as co-chair of President Barack Obama’s transition, where he coordinated the priorities of the incoming administration’s agenda, oversaw the development of its policies, and spearheaded its appointments of major cabinet secretaries and political appointees.”
In addition to Podesta as the co-chair, “at least 10 other CAP experts” were advising the incoming administration, “including Melody Barnes (Obama bundler), the center’s executive vice president for policy who co-chairs the agency-review working group and Cassandra Butts, the senior vice president for domestic policy, who is now a senior transition staffer,” reported Bloomberg.
What was has not been widely disclosed is CAP’s dark participation, other than their “recommendations,” inside the stimulus package, whereas as noted, $100 billion was earmarked for renewable energy. Hidden deep inside the 1,073-page stimulus bill, which was drafted by the Obama transition team and congressional aides, was a RAT: an attempt to suppress potential investigations, and only a few news outlets caught it in February of 2009: the Washington Post and the Washington Examiner, and completely exposed in my Green Corruption File entitled, “The RAT in the Recovery and the Gang of Ten.”
Entitled the Obama-Biden Transition Project, it employed approximately 400 people and it was comprised of Obama bundlers and campaign contributors as well as lobbyist and those that operate inside Washington’s egregious revolving door. What’s more fascinating to point out is that according to the Center for Responsive Politics, “Members of Barack Obama’s presidential transition team weren’t necessarily selected solely on their resumes and expertise — some may have scored positions over similarly qualified individuals because they supported the president-elect by bundling money for his presidential campaign or opening their own wallets to him.”
Five CAP Fellows at the Center of “the green”
More relevant to green corruption is that this lengthy list provides us with some familiar members operating inside this clean-energy scam, which of course, were also bundlers for Obama’s 2008 campaign –– even bundling again in 2012. Even though, in October 2013, I gave insight into the Obama-Biden Transition Team and the numerous green energy players, here’s an overview with the CAP fellows marked with asterisks:
- Valerie B. Jarrett (Obama bundler): Obama-Biden Transition Project Co-Chair
- *John Podesta (Obama bundler): Obama-Biden Transition Project Co-Chair /Now “Executive Power Czar”
- *Carol M. Browner (Obama bundler): Advisory Board Member and Energy Policy Working Groups / Was promoted to Climate Czar, from January 2009 until February 2011
- Michael Froman (Obama bundler): Advisory Board Member
- TJ Glauthier (Obama bundler): Executive Office of the President
- Lisa Jackson (Obama bundler): Energy and Natural Resources Team Leads
- David Sandalow (Obama bundler): Energy Policy Working Groups
- *Steve Spinner (Two-time Obama bundler): Technology, Innovation & Government Reform Policy Working Groups / Was promoted to DOE Advisor in April 2009 until September 2011
- Tom Wheeler (Two-time Obama bundler): Working Group Members; Science, Tech, Space and Arts Team Leader
- Heather Zichal (Obama bundler): Energy Policy Working Groups
Add to this list two more CAP fellows: Lawrence Summers, who, in late 2008 (until 2011), became President-elect Obama’s Director of the National Economic Council and Van Jones, who in March 2009, was appointed as a special adviser for green jobs for the Obama White House, until he resigned in September 2009. This means that we have five CAP fellows that I’ll profile below.
Obviously, operatives from this team were rewarded with positions inside the Obama White House, while others in 2009, snagged other key green energy roles. My focus has been on the “DOE Insiders” –– those from Obama’s “Green Team” and his Energy Department officials and advisors, which included its fair share of Al Gore disciples and well-connected Venture Capitalists. There has been a dozen on my radar that are either directly connected to tens of billions of green-government subsidies (loans, grants and special tax breaks), or helped their friends secure the funds.
Ironically, many have fled since their 2009 appointments, but it’s worth noting that the “DOE Dirty Dozen,” under Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, includes Carol Browner (1), Lisa Jackson, Van Jones (2), Steve Isakowitz, Steve Spinner (3), Matt Rogers, Jonathon Silver (4), Cathy Zoi (5), Kristina Johnson (6) and others like James Markowsky (7), Steven Westly (8), Sanjay Wagle (9), David Danielson (10), David Sandalow (11), David Prend (12) –– another piece of this scandal currently in the works.
What’s telling is that these DOE Insiders were part of the decision making process, even as the rest had access influence in one way or another. They were in charge of picking winners and losers, especially in regards to the Energy Department’s multi-billion Loan Guarantee Program, mentioned many times in this post, whereas I have personally been tracking since 2010.
What we find is that many of those operating inside the Energy Department had more sinister roles and were using tactics such as lobbying, pressure, collusion, and coercion. The evidence of this started circulating in 2011, when the Solyndra Saga broke, but worse, was confirmed in many of the DOE email exchanges released to the public since that time, which includes the massive “2012 Internal DOE Email Dump” that was unleashed in late October of that year.
These correspondences basically prove that the president, the White House, Secretary Chu, and certain DOE officials lied about how they handled the green energy loans on various fronts –– which was followed by secrecy, cover-ups and even perjury.
In November 2012, Marita Noon and I began unleashing the content of these email interactions, of which we found plenty of references to the president, POTUS, the White House, the “7th floor,” and “the Hill.” More disturbing is that contrary to House Oversight testimonies by DOE officials, those inside the DOE were rushing the approval of the DOE loans –– a fast track process imposed at the POTUS level, yet they were met with resistance by the Treasury as well as the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), amongst others involved in the deal making process.
As it turns out, these emails reveal that many of the DOE loans were rushed and approved for political reasons –– visits, speeches, announcements, photo ops, and talking points for the president as well as for the purpose of helping those connected to the companies seeking the loans –– CEO’s, investors, and Democrat politicians, which goes beyond subsidizing Nevada companies in order to help Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid win his 2010 reelection campaign.
These bombshell emails also expose the cozy relationships DOE officials and advisors had during the loan review process with loan applicants and their CEO’s, lobbyists, and investors, etc. It’s no surprise that they had meetings and calls with DOE officials and Energy Secretary Chu, but there are documented meetings and calls with the president, VP, and WH as well as plenty of “green fraternizing” going on –– bike riding, coffee meetings, sleepovers, “beer summits,” Al Gore parties, dinners, Democrat fundraisers, and so on.
NOTE: “2012 Internal DOE Email Dump” is in reference to the House Oversight huge document dump that was unleashed in October 2012 (see Memorandum, Appendix I and the 350+ page Appendix II), and due to its value, will be sourced many times in this report.
Today we’ll stay focused on Center for American Progress, staring with the fact that other than John Podesta, we have Valerie B. Jarrett: President’s Obama’s longest serving advisor and confidante, of which some refer to her as the “shadow chief of staff.”
While Podesta is directly tied to CAP, Ms. Jarrett has an indirect connection: Prior to joining the Obama administration as Senior Advisor and assistant to the president, she served as Vice Chairman of The Joyce Foundation (Obama sat on the board 1994 to 2002), the Chicago-based organization, who is a major donor to radical environmentalist and conservation groups as well as progressive movements like CAP.
This was part of the climate scam that not involves many green corruption suspects, but leads to cap-and-trade, of which I began to unravel in 2010, and what I refer to as the “pot of gold at the end of the climate rainbow” –– warning that with so much at stake, even if the planet blows up, they will get their cap-and-trade, or a version of it.
Jarrett, also in September 2009, hosted a “Clean-Energy Summit” where an array of attendees just so happened to “collectively strike gold” with over $5.3 billion in taxpayer funds from the Green Bank of Obama. We also know that internal emails showed (released in 2011) that deliberations on Solyndra –– the first DOE loan to go bad and scream corruption –– “reached into Obama’s inner circle, including senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.”
Additionally, we can confirm via the “2012 Internal DOE Email Dump” that Ms. Jarrett had a December 7, 2010, meeting with “the CEO’s of NRG and Reliant.” NRG Energy (a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 Index company) and its subsidiaries (Reliant is one) was the recipient of most of junk-rated stimulus loans, which includes NRG Solar for the Agua Caliente project ($967 million); NRG Solar for the California Valley Solar Ranch ($1.2 billion); BrightSource Energy Ivanpah project ($1.6 billion); and Prologis for Project Amp ($1.4 billion).
NRG Energy is one of those twelve timely Soros investments that I alluded to earlier (along with additional Obama administration connections) that snagged $5.2 billion in loans and a truck load of grants as well as other cleantech funds from the Green Bank of Obama. But it is the highly paid president and CEO (since 2003) David Crane (stock owner and an aggressive pusher of clean energy) who appeared to have significant influence. During the course of the June 2012, House Oversight hearing, Crane admitted that between the Bush administration and the Obama administration, he had visited the White House “14 to 15 times,” of which 6 to 7 of his visits were with the Obama White House.
Lawrence Summers: Currently listed as a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Center for American Progress
- Former Director of President Obama’s National Economic Council (designated on November 24, 2008 to 2011)
- Former Secretary of Treasury under President Bill Clinton (from 1999 to 2001)
It’s worth noting that back in the day (November 2008), President-elect Barack Obama rolled out his National Economic Council (NEC), and installed “economic czar” Larry Summers (not subject to pesky confirmation hearings), who had served as Robert Rubin’s protégé at Treasury. Rubin, on the other hand, who had spent 25 years at Goldman Sachs before serving as Secretary of Treasury under the Clinton administration (1995-1999), after his government stint went to Citigroup as a Senior Counselor, only to retire in January 2009. However, what’s not widely known is that behind the scenes [during Timothy Geithner’s time at Treasury], “Rubin was still wielding enormous influence in Barack Obama’s Washington,” documented POLITICO.
What’s worth pointing out again is that Summers’ private memos to Obama, which were released by The New Yorker in early 2012, revealed the real intent behind the economic stimulus bill. American Enterprise Institute reported, “A key source for writer Ryan Lizza is a 57-page, “Sensitive & Confidential” memo written by economist Summers to Obama in December 2008,” which exposed “11 stunning revelations from Larry Summers’ secret economics memo to Barack Obama.” One in particular was that the stimulus was about implementing the Obama agenda and rewarding his green cronies.
The short-run economic imperative was to identify as many campaign promises or high priority items that would spend out quickly and be inherently temporary. … The stimulus package is a key tool for advancing clean energy goals and fulfilling a number of campaign commitments.
Summers, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at CAP, has significant ties to Wall Street, which if you’ve been paying attention, they ensured an Obama victory in 2008. Prior to Summers heading to the Obama White House as top economic advisor, he had an elaborate gig where he worked just one day a week while making $5.2 million in two years at D.E. Shaw –– a New York-based $39 Billion Hedge Fund Giant. According to the Wall Street Journal, Summers “received hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from major financial institutions,” which included “frequent appearances before Wall Street firms including J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers.”
What’s significant is that both Goldman Sachs and Citigroup (profiled later) are corporate CAP donors that either won billions in green energy funds, or made money off of the deals that occurred. And, the majority of the deal making came from the now $32 billion Energy Department Loan Guarantee Program, with the majority of the loans awarded and finalized between 2009 and September 2011. This is the same program that, as mentioned earlier, has been pushed and promoted by Center for American Progress for some time.
During Summer’s time inside the Obama White House, it’s unclear how involved Summers was in the loan program decision making process, but we can confirm via the “2012 Internal DOE Email Dump” that he was part of a scheduled January 2010 meeting with Jonathan Silver (head of the Loan Program at the time), a few DOE officials, and Carol Browner –– the latter another CAP fellow that will be profiled next.
“Nearly a year before Solyndra went bankrupt and engulfed the White House in scandal, President Obama’s top economic advisors [Summers and Timothy Geithner] warned him about the risks of the clean-energy loan program that granted the solar company more than a half-billion dollars” –– as reported by the Business Insider in September 2011.
Needless to say, Solyndra was only one of the 22 “junk” loans awarded by the Energy Department’s $16 billion stimulus program –– a program where we find that Summers is directly tied to one of those DOE deals, while his buddy David Shaw, a two-time Obama bundler, had an invested interest in more.
Mr. Shaw is the founder of D.E. Shaw, where Summer’s worked before joining the Obama White House, and a firm that is connected to at least two renewable energy companies that snagged billions in DOE stimulus loans: First Wind and First Solar that are also CAP corporate donors, which will be expanded upon later. First Wind was the winner of a $117 million DOE stimulus loan, plus hundreds of millions in stimulus grants, of which, according to Peter Schweizer, “Larry Summers was part owner of First Wind.” Meanwhile, First Solar won three large stimulus loans, totaling over $3 billion of taxpayer money –– not to mention additional green energy funds.
Carol M. Browner: Founding member of Center for American Progress and currently a Senior Fellow
- Currently on the Advisory Committee of the Export-Import Bank of the United States
- Headed the Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy (AKA Climate Czar), from January 2009 until February 2011
- Obama-Biden 2008-Transition Team role: Advisory Board Member and Energy Policy Working Groups
- 2008 Obama Bundler
Browner, a career Washington insider, who directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during the Clinton administration, is an Al Gore acolyte, and an environmental extremist with a few left-wing radical ties on her secret resume. While Browner worked for Gore as far back as 1988, at some point (between 2007 and 2009), she served as a board member of the Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection –– which, in July 2011, was morphed into “The Climate Reality Project.” From what I gather, this was the result of merging two environmental groups: The Alliance for Climate Protection and The Climate Project, which were both founded in 2006 by Al Gore.
Browner was also a 2008 Obama bundler and part of the Obama-Biden Transition Team, who was later appointed to the president’s 2009 Green Team as the “climate czar,” only to abruptly resign in early 2011.
Prior to her tenure at the Obama White House, Browner was a founding board member (from 2003-2008) for CAP, and she is currently listed as a Senior Fellow. Browner, not only “pushed for billions of dollars for renewable energy in the economic stimulus bill,” she was part of the decision-making process inside the Energy Department’s Loan Guarantee Program, which at the time of her departure had doled out $34.7 billion of taxpayer money. Browner is implicated in an array of issues surrounding these loans, as reflected in many of the DOE email exchanges released to the public since 2011, as well as the “2012 Internal DOE Email Dump.”
With such deep connections to the former-Vice President Al Gore, and his climate mission, one wonders why Gore and his investment firms –– Kleiner Perkins and Generation Investment Management –– raked in so much of the DOE money under her watch. As of January 2013, I tracked that these two firms combined are tied to at least $10 billion (more if you add in Silver Spring Networks and the fact that their “customers” raked in $1.3 billion in smart-grid stimulus grants), from the taxpayer-funded Green Bank of Obama, the majority coming from the 2009-Recovery Act –– the stimulus bill (renewable energy part) that Doerr helped author, while Browner pushed to include taxpayer money.
Browner may have left her “climate” post, but she currently sits (and has for a while) on the Advisory Committee of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im), another means where our government dishes out billions of American taxpayer dollars in support of clean energy.
“The Ex-Im Bank uses taxpayer money to backstop politically favored projects, which “just greases the wheels of the powerful and often corrupt big Washington Establishment,” wrote Heritage Action. This is another “green bank” that not only supports other Nations, but where you’ll find corporate welfare and crony capitalism run amok, which includes quite a number of the president’s favored firms: Abengoa, First Solar (Exelon Corp.) and SolarWorld, to name a few.
As recently as October 2013, at a Washington, D.C. CAP event (10th anniversary policy conference), Browner had this to say about the Keystone Pipeline: “There will be some twists and turns” in the political debate over the pipeline, but “at the end of the day [Obama] is going to say no,” reported the Huffington Post. This was an even that besides Browner, featured other Big Green personalities such as Van Jones, Tom Steyer, John Podesta, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Secretary of State John Kerry, California Governor Jerry Brown, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and of course, Al Gore.
Tom Steyer, CAP Board Member and Donor, Climate Change Radical, Big Oil Investor, Obama Bundler and Billionaire Buddy
At that event, Browner was joined on a panel with Van Jones, the former “green jobs czar” –– also a CAP fellow (profiled next) –– along with environmental advocate Tom Steyer, who has been on an anti-Keystone XL crusade for some time. In fact, Jones has been on the record slamming the president’s delay on denying the pipeline. Meanwhile, Steyer is the same hedge-fund billionaire and megabucks Obama bundler and Democrat donor that was also a Big Oil Investor through his former firm Farallon Capital Management that has an invested interest in the rejection of the pipeline.
Like most prominent Obama fundraisers, Steyer has enjoyed relatively easy access to the White House, and as of the summer of 2012, it was reported that he had met with senior White House officials in the West Wing on at least four occasions. Steyer was even handpicked to make a cameo appearance at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Additionally, Steyer, “plans to spend as much as $100 million during the 2014 election, seeking to pressure federal and state officials to enact climate change measures through a hard-edge campaign of attack ads against governors and lawmakers,” reported the New York Times last month.
In September 2012, the Washington Free Beacon documented that Steyer “is reportedly one of the backers of Greener Capital, which invests in alternative fuel companies that benefit from the anti-oil policies of the Obama administration.” What’s key to this Green Corruption file is that “Steyer has donated at least $1.4 million to the Center for American Progress (CAP) since 2009 through his TomKat Charitable Trust. As of 2010, he was listed as a director of the left-wing think tank.”
In December 2013, The Beacon, in their piece “Keystone to the Kingdom,” we find a stunning look at the relationship between Mr. Steyer and John Podesta: “Steyer is on the board of the Center for American Progress, and in the early months of 2012 he and Podesta cosigned a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “We Don’t Need More Foreign Oil and Gas,” arguing against Keystone and for tax loopholes such as the Production Tax Credit, increasing the value of the green energy companies in which Steyer invested and on whose boards Podesta sat.”
Moreover, while a slew of Democrats who oppose the Keystone XL pipeline, stand to benefit from its rejection, Farallon Capital Management “has extensive holdings in fossil fuel companies — including investments that could benefit from the blocking of the Keystone pipeline,” reported The Daily Caller in May 2013. One in particular stands out: “Farallon also still holds stock in BP” –– the oil giant that according to POLITICO in 2010, Obama was the biggest recipient of BP donations over the past twenty years.”
In case you didn’t know, British Petroleum, the oil and gas giant that in 2001, began re branding to Beyond Petroleum (BP), was heavily in the “green” business via BP Alternative Energy (biofuels, wind and solar). However, in the spring of 2013, BP switched gears and started abandoning renewable energy. Still, that was after BP had snagged millions in “green” funds from the Obama administration, of which I began to unravel in April 2013 due the fact that BP is in cahoots with Sempra Energy, the winner of a $337 million DOE stimulus loan for the Mesquite Solar Project in Arizona. Also, BP, at that time, was part of all five of Sempra’s wind projects. BP Alternative Energy is also an investor in BrightSource Energy –– the winner of a $1.6 billion DOE stimulus loan that involves more CAP corporate donors and a slew of additional Obama cronies that I’ll get to much later.
Van Jones: Senior Fellow at Center for American Progress (it is unknown when Van first joined CAP, but we do know that he rejoined in February 2010)
- Green Jobs Czar, from March 2009 to September 2009
- 2008 to 2009 Crafter of the Recovery Act: both personally and via the Apollo Alliance, as part or their National Steering Committee, where Van Jones was a board member from 2006 to either 2008 or 2009
As the story goes, Van Jones –– left-wing radical, turned CNN contributor –– was handpicked to become Obama’s “green jobs czar” in 2009: “We were so delighted to be able to recruit him into the White House,” Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, stated on August 12, 2009. Mr. Jones’ advisory post at the White House was short lived due to his radical past and behavior, and in September 2009 he resigned, blaming it on a “smear campaign of lies and distortions to distract and divide.”
Nevertheless, Van is another very active CAP member where his focus remains on “green-collar jobs.” He’s still a strong force in the midst of the climate change debate, pushing green jobs, as well as his extreme environmental ideology.
Since 2010, Jones has been a Senior Fellow at CAP, whereas his bio states, “he is a co-founder of three successful nonprofit organizations: the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and Green For All” –– of which both George Soros and Al Gore (both huge winners of green energy monies) have been know to fund Van’s causes as far back as the 90’s, including Green for All.
Mr. Jones has been featured in a few of my posts, but most recently when I exposed the various green parties involved in crafting the energy sector of the 2009-Recovery Act –– and how they and their friends raked in tens of billions from the Green Bank of Obama. Certainly, Van’s White House post, which comprised of overseeing billions in “green” stimulus funds, and the subsequent controversy surrounding his eco-radical mission (good and bad press) helped catapult Jones into fame and possibly some fortune. In my opinion, this would include the success of his green jobs book, numerous green honors, and his CNN gig –– success that he may not have seen otherwise.
We’ve tracked Jones’ connections to CH2M HILL (also a client of the Podesta Group), the winner of $1.3 billion in stimulus funds as well as Solar Mosaic, where Jones was an advisor, who ultimately, in June 2012, was awarded a $2 million grant from the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative. Solar Mosaic had also employed Rebuild the Dream to do its public relations work, documented the Daily Caller in 2012. Also, in 2012 and 2013, Solar Mosaic snagged two small 1603 federal stimulus grants: one in Arizona for $13,123 and in California for $185,700.
What about Mr. Jones’ solicitation business? Prior to Van’s resignation, in August 2009, his Green for All launched a program called Capital Access Program (CAP) to help green businesses secure stimulus funds –– monies that he was overseeing at that time, of which his bio confirms. In fact, during the 2012 presidential election (as a CNN contributor), Jones bragged about his part in the implementation of the clean-energy stimulus funds: he helped “run the inter-agency process that oversaw $80 billion [some reports go as high as $100 billion] in green energy recovery spending.”
What’s also relevant is that not only did Jones personally participate in the formation of 2009-Recovery Act, he was with the Apollo Alliance as part of their National Steering Committee and Board member (from 2006 to either 2008 or 2009) –– when the Apollo Alliance successfully got many of their policy ideas packaged into the stimulus bill, including, but not limited to, its expensive and unsuccessful “green jobs” program.
Both Senator Harry Reid and Mr. Jones have bragged about the Apollo’s participation. Adding to the mix is that the Apollo Alliance is a project of the Tides Center. And, the Tides Center/ Tides Foundation is another Soros funded left-wing organization that was also funded by the Joyce Foundation, mentioned earlier under Valerie Jarrett.
What you should know about the Tides Center can be found at Watchdog.org, who in 2013, labeled their programs as “a checklist of liberalism’s most ambitious agenda.” Moreover, it’s become a meeting place of two potentially warring factions of the Left — labor and environmentalists,” charged Tori Richards early last year.
Perhaps Tides’ biggest coup was using its Apollo Alliance Project to help draft Obama’s massive stimulus bill. The final stimulus bill doled out billions of dollars to further the Left’s green-energy agenda and social justice constituency while preserving labor’s role in centralized economic planning.
Apollo Alliance, now labeled as the BlueGreen Alliance, not only enjoys political clout, but they also have significant and highly influential green allies and donors, which at one point included John Podesta as an Apollo board member –– adding another layer to CAP’s power behind this massive green energy scheme.
Steve Spinner: Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress from September 2010 to October 2011, where he publicly advocated for energy policies that support clean, renewable energy
- Two-time Obama Bundler
- DOE Loan Programs Advisor, from April 2009 to September 2010
- 2008 Obama-Biden Transition Team role: Technology, Innovation & Government Reform Policy Working Groups
Steve Spinner, a two-time Obama bundler, not only worked for Obama’s 2008 transition team, he also was part the president’s 2012 reelection campaign, serving as a California finance chair and founded “Technology for Obama (T4O).”
In April 2009, Spinner was appointed as the DOE Loan Programs Advisor to then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu, yet by September 2010, he left the DOE and about that same time joined CAP as a Senior Fellow until October 2011. During the course of Spinner’s DOE gig, he acted as a liaison between the Recovery Act Office and the Loan Programs Office, of which he was responsible for monitoring the loan program. According to the DOE, “In that capacity, [Spinner] played no role in the decision-making on or evaluation of individual loan applications or the awarding of any grants.”
Spinner was also handpicked to make a cameo appearance at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, along with other wealthy Obama green cronies: Steve Westly, Tom Steyer (profiled earlier) and Jim Rogers, who will be profiled later.
Spinner & Solyndra
Spinner is well known for his involvement and influence (investigations and internal emails prove) to the ill-fated, politically connected Solyndra, which was once the poster child for the president’s clean-energy initiative. The Solyndra Saga –– FBI raid and all –– in 2011, morphed into the template for Obama’s green corruption scandal: political payback, costing taxpayers at least $570.4 million. Yet, most concluded a long time ago that Solyndra was only the tip of the iceberg.
Nevertheless, Spinner’s participation, despite the DOE’s denial, has been proven many times over, including in October 2011, when POLITICO and others seized on his role inside this scandal, stating, “[Spinner] played an active part in Solyndra’s $535 million loan guarantee [approved in September 2009] despite conflict of interest concerns over his wife’s work at a law firm that also represented the California solar company.”
Solyndra also snagged a $25.1 million in California tax credit, and at some point before 2011, Solyndra indirectly bagged another loan from the Export-Import Bank, which was obtained by a third-party company to the tune of $10.3 million.
It should be emphasized that back in 2009, Fitch had rated the Solyndra DOE loan “non-investment grade,” as revealed by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in March 2012 –– a report that implicates Spinner even more so.
White House e-mails released late last year  indicate that Spinner was influential in securing the $528 million loan to now-bankrupt Solyndra. Many of those EMAILS were written just days after he signed an ethics agreement pledging that he would “not participate in any discussion regarding any application involving” his wife’s law firm.
In one message to a DOE official on August 28, 2009, Spinner wrote, “How hard is this? What is he waiting for? . . . I have OVP and WH breathing down my neck on this.” The e-mail went on to demand that the DOE official “walk over there and force [the official working on the Solyndra evaluation] to give [him] an answer.” After just being contacted by Solyndra, Spinner inquires in another e-mail, “Any word on OMB? Solyndra’s getting nervous.” The e-mail correspondence occurring in the final days before the Solyndra loan closed in September 2009 centers heavily on Spinner’s efforts to coordinate plans for either the President or Vice President to announce the first loan approval at a scheduled visit to Solyndra.
Spinner & Tesla Motors
Additionally, we know that prior to joining the DOE, Spinner was an energy-focused venture capitalist and high-tech consultant. At some point, Spinner was a “consultant” to Tesla Motors, the “billionaire’s electric car company,” with an array of Obama pals in the mix (Elon Musk , Steve Westly, Nicholas Pritzker, Google executives, Vantage Point Capital Partners and Goldman Sachs), of which in January 2010, was subsidized with $465 million of taxpayer money from the DOE’s ATVM program.
Spinner & First Solar
Needless to say, according to The Nation’s May 2013 piece entitled “The Secret Donors Behind the Center for American Progress and Other Think Tanks,” is where we first discover that First Solar was a huge favorite of CAP. First Solar is the solar firm, which is connected to a slew of Obama cronies, that is also a confirmed 2012 CAP corporate donor –– possibly as early as 2011.
While we chronicled “The First Solar Swindle” in the summer of 2012, let me reiterate –– although in more detail later –– that they were awarded over $3 billion in stimulus loans, as well as additional taxpayer money. One key tidbit of Intel from The Nation is where we learn of Spinner’s participation in the First Solar DOE deal making….
Last year , when First Solar was taking a beating from congressional Republicans and in the press over job layoffs and alleged political cronyism, CAP’s Richard Caperton praised Antelope Valley in his testimony to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, saying it headed up his list of “innovative projects” receiving loan guarantees. Earlier, Caperton and Steve Spinner — a top Obama fundraiser who left his job at the Energy Department monitoring the issuance of loan guarantees and became a CAP senior fellow — had written an article cross-posted on CAP’s website and its Think Progress blog, stating that Antelope Valley represented “the cutting edge of the clean energy economy.”
The CAP article referenced above by Caperton and Spinner (“Don’t Let Clean Energy Funding Die on the Vine,”) was published on July 13, 2011, and where we find that CAP demanded that more taxpayer money be used to fund the DOE’s loan program –– even calling for a green bank “as a permanent financing tool for clean energy projects.”
Spinner & Silver’s Collusion
The CAP piece referenced above also opened up another can of worms. Jonathon Silver, at that time an Obama administration official at the Energy Department “actively collaborated with CAP in 2011 to advance the president’s green energy agenda, in possible violation of federal law,” documented the Washington Free Beacon on September 14, 2012.
This is where internal emails surfaced showing that over several days via Spinner and Silver’s personal email accounts (correspondences that also imply the two were in touch multiple times over the phone), the two colluded: “In July 2011, Steve Spinner, then a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP), sought and received guidance from Jonathan Silver, executive director of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) loans program, regarding a CAP editorial urging Congress to expand funding for the program and permanently establish a Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA), or ‘green bank,’ to further fund clean energy projects.”
Spinner & BrightSource Energy
Inside the “2012 Internal DOE Email Dump,” we also discover that as early as September 2009, there was “strong push” by Silver, Spinner, and Matt Rogers (Senior Advisor to Energy Secretary Steven Chu from January 2009 until September 2010) to push through the $1.6 billion BrightSource Energy deal.
NOTE: Jonathan Silver, reported to be an Obama bundler, has quite the impressive background.
As noted by Barron’s Magazine (in 2010), Silver had been a managing partner at Core Capital Partners [and co-founder] in Washington. “Coincidentally, one of his colleagues there was Tom Wheeler, a 2008 Obama bundler” –– mentioned under the Obama-Biden Transition Team.
We also know that Silver’s wife has served as financial director of the Democratic Leadership Council, and that the couple hosted a party to promote Al Gore’s environmental advocacy group, the Alliance for Climate Protection. This party (fundraiser) surrounded Silver’s vetting process (September 2009), in which he invited two key DOE officials.
Silver was appointed as the Executive Director of the Loan Programs Office in November 2009, and resigned in early October 2011, amidst the “Solyndra $535 Million Saga” –– even testifying in September 2011. Considering that there is much to be said about Silver’s just shy of a two-year stint at the DOE, we do know that it included helping Secretary Chu accelerate the loan review process.
In reading hundreds of pages from the “2012 Internal DOE Email Dump,” it’s evident that Silver aggressively pushed the loans through (fast tracked) as directed, influenced, and pressured by the POTUS, Vice President Joe Biden, the White House, the 7th Floor, and the Hill –– and did so with arrogance, even as he was fraternizing with lose seeking the DOE loans.
Despite his resignation, Silver has appeared before the House Oversight Committee twice (July 2012 and September 2013), of which at that time there was a slew of emails proving cronyism and corruption that Silver had to answer to. This is where some of the most bombshell details emerged, starting with the fact that in the course of Silver’s testimony during the July 18th Oversight hearing, it was revealed that he and other DOE officials and advisors were using their personal email accounts to conduct Energy Department business.
Silver also made this denial: “…as I say, almost nobody that I am aware of in the Loan Program even knew who the individuals were who had invested, either directly or indirectly into these companies.” Yet, we know this is a lie. In fact, we exposed this many times in the course of unleashing the “2012 Internal DOE Email Dump,” which began shortly after their release –– even discovering more clean-energy dirt along the way. We can confirm that Silver knew exactly who the investors were in the projects seeking Energy Department loans in at least four of the deals that were approved: BrightSource, Shepherds Flat, and Kahuka Wind, and Fisker Automotive for starters –– all with deep ties to the Obama White House. We also know that Silver expedited some of these loans for presidential photo ops, as well as helping Senator Harry Reid’s 2010 midterm election.
During the September 10, 2013 House Oversight hearing on “Preventing Violations of Federal Transparency Laws,” members questioned two of the most egregious offenders: Mr. Silver and Lisa Jackson the former head of the EPA mentioned early on as part of the Obama-Biden Transition Team.
Sadly, this hearing didn’t get much coverage except for Paul Chesser at the National Legal and Policy Center, noting that this event “didn’t last long enough to get very deep.” However, what caught my attention was when Committee Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio grilled Mr. Silver “about his directives to keep messaging out of the public eye” as well as reading particular email exchanges that implicated Silver helping his buddies get DOE loans. Also at issue were the loan program failures.
However, the most unbelievable attempt to conceal the truth came out at that time: The congressman then showed an email that was sent to the committee staff a couple of days prior to the hearing from Silver’s lobbyist (lawyer, it’s unclear) demanding, “Don’t direct any questions to Mr. Silver.” Silver denied knowing anything about THE request, but we never got to the bottom of it because the Ranking Member, Congressman Elijah Cummings stopped Jordon from going down that path due to confusion over attorney/client privilege, and that he and Committee Chairman Darrell Issa would be looking into that issue…” off the record.