A key unanswered question in the Solyndra loan investigation concerns the role George Kaiser, the Oklahoma billionaire and major Obama fundraiser whose Family Foundation owned a large stake in the failed solar-panel company. Kaiser made multiple visits to the White House in the week before the Department of Energy approved a $535 million guaranteed loan to Solyndra on March 20, 2009, and helped arrange 16 separate meetings between top White House officials and Solyndra executives around that time. Yet Kaiser maintains that he “did not participate in any discussions with the U.S. government regarding the loan.”
But as the following video clip reveals, when it comes to steering government funds his way, Kaiser knew exactly what he was doing. Indeed, here he is July 2009 openly boasting about his ability to get his hands on stimulus funding. “There’s never been more money shoved out of the government’s door in world history, and probably never will be again, than in the last few months and in the next 18 months,” he says. “And our selfish parochial goal is to get as much as it for Tulsa and Oklahoma as we possibly can.”
Kaiser cites his “multiple trips to Washington” and his ability to secure meetings with “all the key players in the West Wing of the White House.” He also touts his “almost unique advantage,” through his foundation, of being able to match public dollars with private funding. That way, Kaiser says, the Obama administration will know “we’ll watch over it because we don’t want to be embarrassed with the way our money is spent and so we won’t make you be embarrassed with the way your money is spent either.” Sure, what could possibly go wrong?
While Solyndra’s failure is an embarrassment for both parties, Kaiser’s foundation still stands to recoup a large chunk of its investment in the company, whereas taxpayers will recoup very little, if any, of the $535 million investment the White House made on our behalf. That’s because once Solyndra’s financial troubles became too obvious to ignore, the DOE negotiated a loan restructuring that gave priority status to private investors over taxpayers with respect to the first $75 million recovered in the event of Solyndra’s collapse. As Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations pointed out last week, this appears to be a blatant violation of federal law.
Obama may take issue with the fact that “millionaires and billionaires” like Kaiser make too much money, but he obviously has no qualms about showering them with taxpayer dollars.
(H/t Verum Serum.)