The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Another Stimulus-Funded Energy Company Hits the Skids


Another stimulus success story — well, success for Democratic lawmakers and a company that received millions in federal funds, not for the taxpayer, laid-off workers, or the customers who will probably never purchase the product of the rapidly sinking company.

A Waltham-based electric car battery supplier — now facing financial implosion despite receiving $249 million in federal stimulus cash — was a heavy donor to congressional Democrats before scoring the hefty taxpayer handout, the Herald has learned.

A123 Systems CEO David Vieau has donated $16,900 to Washington, D.C., power brokers and Democratic committees since 2008, including $2,400 to Bay State Rep. Edward J. Markey, the chairman of the climate and energy committees, in 2009 — just three months before A123 received $249 million in federal stimulus funds. Vieau donated another $1,500 to Markey last year as the company pushed for even more federal dollars through government loans.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry, another ardent supporter of the company, received $2,000 in campaign donations from Vieau in 2010, the same year Vieau gave $2,500 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. In 2008, Vieau donated $4,800 to campaign funds supporting President Obama and $200 to the Democratic National Committee.

The Boston Herald also reports:

A123 has laid off more than 100 employees and seen a net loss of $172 million through the first three quarters of 2011 despite the heavy infusion of federal cash. A123 has yet to turn a profit, and losses have been mounting. Earlier this month, the company posted a fourth-quarter loss of $85 million despite $40.4 million in revenue. The company’s stock tanked to an all-time low of just more than $1 yesterday on news of a $55 million battery recall. A defective battery caused a luxury electric car, the Fisker Karma, to conk out earlier this month in a Consumer Reports test.

A luxury electric car called the “Karma” fails a test because of a product from a company that received stimulus funds. Hmmm.

The only thing this story lacks is Obama touring the factory. But perhaps Pelosi will do:

Markey squired then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi through A123’s former Watertown headquarters in June 2010 as a “great example of how Recovery Act funding is helping American companies.” Pelosi called Markey a “true visionary of our time.”

Tags: Ed Markey , Nancy Pelosi , Stimulus


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