Everybody has heard about Solyndra and the many other failures of the DOE green energy grant and loan program replete with scandalous political paybacks to Obama supporters. Now there's another one. It involves the largest single loan guarantee of the entire $16 billion program, a current Cabinet Secretary and a former Chief-of-Staff to Vice-President Joe Biden.
BrightSource Energy spent two years and half a million dollars lobbying the Obama Administration to approve a $1.6 billion loan guarantee for the gigantic Ivanpah solar-power plant in California's Mojave Desert. Facing what the company called a "do-or-die deadline" in early 2011, BrightSource pulled out all the stops and further leveraged their considerable political connections to the max.
Bernie Toon, former Chief-of-Staff to Joe Biden in the Senate, was hired to ramp-up lobbying efforts with top Administration officials. On March 9, 2011, just days after being hired, Toon escorted three BrightSource executives to the White House for a meeting with Alan Hoffman, according to a Wall Street Journal investigation. Hoffman was Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Vice-President according to White House personnel reports.
On March 15, there was a meeting with officials at the White House's Office of Management and Budget.
BrightSource also leveraged the influence of company Chairman John Bryson by sending a "proposed letter" to the DOE green-energy loan program director, Jonathan Silver, threatening to call on Bryson's close personal friend White House Chief-of-Staff William Daley for intervention. Silver apparently got the message, and within hours Silver sent an email saying there was no need for Bryson to contact Daley. "Mr. Silver assured BrightSource that its deal was 'on track'" according to the WSJ.
Bob Beauprez is a former Member of Congress and is currently the editor-in-chief of A Line of Sight, an online policy resource. Prior to serving in Congress, Mr. Beauprez was a dairy farmer and community banker. He and his wife Claudia reside in Lafayette, Colorado. You may contact him at: http://bobbeauprez.com/contact/