OUR VIEW: Obama, explain bad Colorado loan (poll)

October 30, 2012
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When President Barack Obama used taxpayer money to invest in “green” technologies — including a now-defunct Colorado startup — we hoped the cash would go to entrepreneurs with the most promising business plans.

Despite some colossal failures, such as the famous demise of Solyndra in Sept. 2011, some may have felt better after NBC’s David Gregory asked White House advisor David Plouffe about possible motivations for bad green loans.

Gregory: “Were campaign contributors involved here in terms of their projects that ultimately forced the government’s hand?”

Plouffe: “Absolutely not. These decisions about the loan program were made by career officials in the Department of Energy on the merits.”

That assurance may not be true. CompleteColorado.com, a website The Gazette has recommended for years, obtained and published emails last week that indicate loan decisions may have been made by President Obama, not “career officials in the Department of Energy.”

One telling email is from Department of Energy credit adviser James C. McCrea. In an April 1, 2010 email, McCrea expressed concerns that technical advisors “have major issues with the transaction” (emphasis his). The transaction involved Fort Collins-based Abound Solar.

On June 24, 2010, McCrea emailed Ian Samuels, with the domestic finance division of the Department of the Treasury. McCrea asked Samuels to reschedule a briefing regarding Abound “in light of the transaction pressure under which we are all now operating.”

Samuels responded that day with suggestions on how to proceed with Abound. Jonathan Silver, executive director of Loan Programs for the Department of Energy, injected himself into the conversation the next day. In an email sent June 25, 2010, Silver wrote to McCrea and said: “You better let him know that the WH wants to move Abound forward. Policy will have to wait unless they have a specific policy problem with abound.”

Complete Colorado’s Todd Shepherd wrote: “It appears to be a mild scolding to a Treasury advisor, Ian Samuels, who is not moving fast enough to schedule calls regarding Abound.”

Abound received a $400 million loan guarantee just eight days later, on July 3. That same day, Obama told Americans that Abound would create “more than 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs” in Colorado.

Instead, it filed bankruptcy last summer.

Earlier this month, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce began asking the Obama administration to explain what Department of Energy officials knew about problems with Abound before the guarantee was made. The district attorney in Weld County, where some Abound operations took place, has launched a criminal investigation.

Under Obama’s direction, the federal government has hemorrhaged money on green projects that are failing at an enormous expense to the public. Taxpayers are entitled to know whether these loans were made in good faith — with objective due diligence — or whether this money was spent with reckless abandon for political gain.

That's our view, so what's yours? Please begin or contribute to a Facebook discussion below this article and vote in poll to the right.

Friend editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen on Facebook, follow him on Twitter

Must-see-daily site: Complete Colorado

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