Cronyism You Can’t Script

by Andrew Stiles

Even for the Obama administration, today’s news dump ($1.3 trillion deficit, the demise of the CLASS Act, and war in Uganda) is something to behold. On top of everything, the White House has released its list of major campaign bundlers for the third quarter of the year. 

One name in particular warrants a mention.

Steve Spinner, who served as a Obama fundraiser in 2008, was also an adviser for the Department of Energy loans program responsible for the Solyndra debacle. As it turns out, he was also married to a partner at the law firm representing Solyndra during its loan application.

But despite signing an ethics agreement in which he pledged not to involve himself in any negotiations regarding the Solyndra loan, a series of e-mails reveal that Spinner was rather intimately involved in the negotiations and was advocating on behalf of the company.

“Any word from OMB?” Spinner wrote to a DOE staffer in reference to the Solyndra loan, which was awaiting approval from the Office of Management and Budget. “I have the OVP [Office of the Vice President] and WH [White House] breathing down my neck on this.”

Spinner was one of several department officials pushing to get a final decision on Solyndra in August 2009, ahead of a scheduled press event at which Vice President Joe Biden praised the company as “exactly what the Recovery Act [stimulus package] is all about.”

“How f***ing hard is this?” he wrote to another department official on Aug. 28, 2009. “What is he waiting for? Will we have it by the end of the day?”

On the Obama administration latest list of campaign fundraisers, Spinner moved up a category, ranking among those who have raised more than $500,000 this quarter. In the second quarter of this year, Spinner raised “only” somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000.

Good to hear that Spinner has not let an FBI investigation, Congressional probe and widespread (though not that widespread) media scrutiny surrounding the company he once lobbied for (and which employed his wife) distract him from his fundraising duties.