What Fresh Hell Is This?

October 12, 2011

As Always, The Frame Is Missing

In today's Tribune-Review, there's yet another Solyndra editorial:
Internal e-mails provided to congressional investigators reveal an Obama administration enamored with command economics and an insider with a conflict pushing the Energy Department to guarantee a $535 million loan to now-bankrupt solar-panel maker Solyndra.

Solyndra's collapse -- which left taxpayers on the half-billion-dollar hook -- shows the recklessness of government pushing "green" businesses whose unsustainable business models chase away private investment.

The e-mails show Steven J. Spinner, a 2008 Obama fundraiser, cheerleading for Solyndra as a senior member of Energy's loan guarantee oversight office, writing that the White House and vice president's office were "breathing down my neck on this" -- even though his wife's law firm represented Solyndra and he had promised to recuse himself from Solyndra loan-guarantee matters.
Missing, as always is the historical context of the loan.

From Huffington Post:
One of the Republican Party's lead campaign groups tried to turn the Solyndra failure into an election issue Tuesday, accusing President Obama and Democrats of creating a "green casino" to gamble taxpayer money -- ignoring the program's creation by GOP lawmakers.

Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturer that got a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, went bankrupt last month and was raided by the FBI.

It's been a major embarrassment to the Obama administration, which oversaw the last steps of the guarantee and granted it in spite of internal debate over Solyndra's prospects. And Friday emails released to congressional investigators revealed that a Department of Energy official sent dozens of messages about the guarantee even though he had officially recused himself because his wife worked for Solyndra's law firm.
And from that link we learn:
Energy Department spokesman Damien LaVera said Spinner acted as a liaison for the loan program under the economic stimulus law, but that he played no role in evaluating individual loan applications.

"Because his wife agreed not to participate in or receive any financial compensation from her law firm's work on behalf of any loan program applicant, Mr. Spinner was authorized to oversee and monitor the progress of applications, ensure that the program met its deadlines and milestones, and coordinate possible public announcements," LaVera said in an email Friday.

Spinner "was not allowed to make decisions on the terms or conditions of any particular loan guarantee or decide whether a particular transaction was approved," LaVera said, adding that the arrangement was approved by the Energy Department's ethics officer.
Which, of course, is somewhat different from the Trib screed that started this whole blog post.

Still, this Spinner thing looks messy at best.

In any event, back to that first Huffingtonpost post:
So Republicans have been exploiting the ugly issue, with National Republican Congressional Committee Tuesday distributing a press release that left out the fact that the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program was launched by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, created under the auspices of Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas). And the Solyndra application was started by the Bush administration, which selected Solyndra as one of the 16 most promising green energy programs in the country. [emphasis added.]
The San Francisco Business Times even said so at the time:
The Fremont-based company has raised $600 million in venture capital. It also has an unusual fallback: loans guaranteed by the Department of Energy to fund its expansion.

“We’re borrowing money directly from the federal (government) at very attractive rates at a time when I think it would be impossible to raise regular financing anywhere else,” Gronet said.
A little something my friends on Scaife's braintrust leave out.

When you change the frame of the story, you change the story. They're good at that at the Trib.

1 comment:

Conservative Mountaineer said...

Yeah, the "rest of the story" can be messy at times.

From Climate Progress

January 2009: In an effort to show it has done something to support renewable energy, the Bush Administration tries to take Solyndra before a DOE credit review committee before President Obama is inaugurated. The committee, consisting of career civil servants with financial expertise, remands the loan back to DOE “without prejudice” because it wasn’t ready for conditional commitment.

From Bloomberg

Two months before Obama’s visit, accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP warned that Solyndra, the recipient of $535 million in federal loan guarantees, had financial troubles deep enough to “raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.”

The Obama administration stood by Solyndra through the auditor’s warning, the abandonment of a planned initial public offering and a last-ditch refinancing where taxpayers took a back seat to new investors. That unwavering commitment has come under increasing scrutiny since the company’s travails culminated in its filing for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 6 and a raid on its headquarters by the Federal Bureau of Investigation two days later.

“People including our government put blinders on and did not want to believe in the obvious,” Jonathan Dorsheimer, an analyst in Boston for Canaccord Genuity Inc. of Vancouver, said in an interview with Bloomberg Government. “The fact that the government chose Solyndra as their white horse is mind- boggling.”

Nice try.