The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Solyndragate: Blood in the Water

There’s blood in the water and the sharks are circling — the Solyndra story just keeps getting deeper. Two newspapers — the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post — are carrying front-page stories today about the Solyndra debacle, each covering a different aspect of the story. This is bad news for an Obama Administration hoping the worst was over — newspaper editors smell blood and now the hunt is on. The Journal’s story about the Solyndra-Navy relationship is particularly damaging:

A major investor in Solyndra LLC was instrumental in helping the troubled solar-power firm compete for a potentially lucrative U.S. Navy deal, a previously unreported connection that will likely fuel controversy surrounding the company.

Solyndra was promoted to the Navy by RockPort Capital, one of the firm’s largest investors and board members, which has a seat on a Pentagon panel that helps the government find emerging technologies.

RockPort recommended Solyndra to the military, along with four other companies. In the end, the negotiations for Solyndra’s inclusion in a $1 million pilot program fell apart when the Navy learned about the company’s pending bankruptcy filing. [...]

Mr. Kopczynski said RockPort disclosed its $47.5 million investment in Solyndra to the Pentagon panel, though it didn’t disclose that Solyndra was in financial trouble and said it wasn’t required to under the panel’s rules. Gaining the Navy as a customer could have helped Solyndra’s shaky financial state, and by extension RockPort’s $47.5 million investment in the Fremont, Calif., firm.

That the Obama Administration wasted millions of dollars of stimulus money chasing a green unicorn is already clear, but the idea that the company’s promoters attempted to mislead the armed forces to bail them out of a sticky situation will leave a particularly bad taste in people’s mouths.

The administration’s goal has to be to get this story off the front page and fast.  With the Gunwalker mess at the Justice Department boiling briskly, the White House could find itself mired in the kind of interminable and damaging scandal stories that have dogged so many of its predecessors. This is not the kind of background noise that the President needs as he looks toward a tough race in 2012.

Published on October 14, 2011 11:29 am
  • stephen b

    The president may not “need” this “background noise”, but the public certainly needs to hear it.

  • Corlyss

    “the idea that the company’s promoters attempted to mislead the armed forces to bail them out of a sticky situation will leave a particularly bad taste in people’s mouths.”

    The first incident after the sequestration of $650 bn from the Defense budget which requires a military response and we can’t provide it will make this kabuki even more poignant and infuriating. It reminds me of Pat Schroeder’s attempt to convert the DoD budget to underwrite research into women’s health issues like breast cancer. Worthy goal, inapproriate activity.

    Look at the administration’s response to the Iranian plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador on US soil. In a rational international law world, the US would take immediate military action against Iran. Buuuuuuuuuuut we’re too stretched for anything THAT ambitious. So we invade Uganda to capture or kill the senior operators in the Lord’s Resistence Army. BFD. We’re probably there only because Obama’s family is next door in Kenya. The man and his puppetmasters are nuts. Completely nuts.

  • Charles R. Williams

    Scandals like Solyndra are the inevitable result of a politically inspired industrial policy.

  • Sam L.

    More evidence for not trusting this administration and the man at the top.

  • Renfield

    Disgraceful. But thoroughly understandable. Solyndra burned through half a billion dollars with nothing to show for it but a warehouse full of unsellable solar panels. So why not a huge military contract? Would’ve been a great photo op for Obama, too, hyping our new “green Navy” while showcasing submarines powered by solar panels.

  • Bill Gehringer

    Yes, Obamma is sending Chrony capitalism to it’s height.

    Governement has no part in a free market interfering with business, either in a positive way, or a negative way.

    Governments role is to create an enviroenment for companies to be successful all on their own, or maybe the other might happen, they need to be able to fail all on their own.

    The government can do veru little correctly. Yes they run a powerful military, but, after 200+ years of experience I would expect them to be even better than they are. Maybe not better by measurements of power and effect, but certainly of competence and efficiency.
    Just consider that the DOD lost 100Billion in their books, that they can’t find. They can’y figure out if it was spent, stolen, or sitting somewhere.
    I could see this happening maybe on the scale of $1000.00 or so, maybe a rounding error on their books, but not 100 billion.

  • Mkelley

    It’s a very rare thing that a lefty rag like the Post would even mention a Democrat scandal, let alone put it on the front page.

  • Robert Hanson

    With all due respect, the statement “Obama Administration wasted millions of dollars” is severly understating the situation. He actually wasted half a Billion dollars on Solyndra alone. And then allowed the loan to be restructured so as to put his crony and top fundraiser George Kaiser, in front of the line to be repaid whatever money remains, with the US govenment getting nothing.

    Worse yet, shortly after the bankruptcy, they gave out 4.5 Billion more to other solar boondoggles with little oversight, since the window for funding authority was about to close. I’m guessing when the smoke finally clears, the “wasted” figure will be closer to 5 Billion than mere “millions”….

  • gommygoomy

    Solyndragate is “Blood in the water”?
    How about doing some REPORTING on FAST and FURIOUS? Obama’s Gun Running SCAM, to get High Powered Weapons, in to the hands of the Mexican Drug Cartels, for the purpose of having these Murderers KILL as many innocent Mexican Men, Women, and CHILDREN, as possible, so that he – OBAMA – could use their MURDERS, as a Prop, for his quest for more GUN CONTROL.
    Where’s THOSE Stories.
    Solyndra is nothing more than a DISTRACTION.
    And, everybody knows it.

  • tom

    O stop picken… on our president,after all he all wants the best for himself!!

  • abd0071

    So, a company facing bankruptcy tried through legal means to get a government contract to save itself and the navy decided not to give the contract to them. Gee, that never happens.

    A company was badly run and went under. Obama had nothing to do with it — he was not on the board and not an investor. The only reason people even notice this is because Obama said something nice about this company and set up a program to try to develop new energy sources and jobs for the country. No laws were broken here. This is not Watergate. This is just kvetching for the sake of kvetching.

  • GH Calderone

    This is becoming increasingly interesting by the day. The smoking gun may be the amount of campaign and DNC contributions made by Solyndra and their executives. Were these taxpayer backed loans returned to Democrats? Was the Obama administration employing undue influence to steer government business to Solyndra?

    To repeat two questions that will be exceptionally painful and embarrassing to Democrats: “What did the administration know? And, when did they know it?

  • Will Reynolds

    Damage to this country has reached historic levels under this administration. I find it incredible and scary that approximately 40% of the people still approve of this man.

  • http://the-american-interest.com Vicky Bennett

    I will definitely use the term “chasing the green unicorn” again…

    Will Solyndragate or Gunrunnergate bring Obama and his administration of socialist down? Only you the voter can do that.

  • Richard

    Well, yes, but what’s been done cannot be undone. The murder of our Border Patrolman and the reign of terror in northern Mexico stand witness to, at best, the feckless stupidity and, at worst, moral turpitude of this administration. Maybe dead Mexicans laying in the roadway, hanging from highway overpasses doesn’t mean anything to most Americans but those of us who live in California know that what happens down there eventually finds its way up here. If there is any proof he had any knowledge beforehand of this program, he should be removed from office. Whoever approved of this program should be criminally prosecuted.

  • Joe Lammers

    The inevitable result of the government “investing” in private companies is that the investments are policatically motivated, and almost never make sense from a business standpoint.

  • Escoffier

    Another few weeks and the conjunction of the Center for American Progress with the movers and shakers of Solyndra. John Podesta is the head of this “think” tank and he was in charge of Obama’s transition team as in picking staff. Carol Browner was the WH adviser on green and is a main occupant of CAP. She met with the Obama contributor/bundlers on their Dept of Energy loans. Steve Spinner is also head of energy hokum at CAP, was recently running seminars on green energy loans while bundling in 2011 for Obama just like he did in 2008. He was also the main bully in getting the Solyndra loan through the objecting civil servants at Treasury, DOE, and OMB while his wife’s law firm did the legal work for Solyndra for $2M+. He also signed an ethics agreement and ignored it the same day. And of course we cannot forget Van Jones the Green Czar who is also at CAP and its student offshoot Campus Progress. Of course he is currently ginning up protests against Wall St currently at the very time the House of Reprsentatives is finding all of these strings and pulling. Campaign bundlers/Center for American Progress/Dept of Energy are all interconnected through the Obama White House.

  • Tony V

    Great, CORRUPTION and CRONY CAPITALISM to go along with Obama’s INCOMPETENCE and DIVISIVENESS… all that HOPE AND CHANGE GARBAGE is becoming more and more LUDICROUS by the DAY.

  • Kim Hollencamp

    This scandal is bigger than Teapot Dome or Watergate. This is out-and-out corrpution and bribery. Steve Chu and a bunch of others should be prosecuted and imprisoned for this fraud and corruption. If it goes to the very top, then Obama needs to be impeached and convicted as well. We cannot allow the US government to go the way of Mexico, Chicago, and other government entities that are run on bribery, kickbacks, patronage jobs, and corruption. The White House and DOE have acted like Mexican cops trolling for bribes, kickbacks, and campaign contributions in exchange for abuse of their political office.

  • Maxbert50

    What else can companies do with a lousy product (over-priced solar panels or money-pit windmills) except sell it to the government? Hand out enough campaign contributions and those idiots will buy anything.