Solyndra and the GOP

Democrats aren't the only ones entangled in the green energy boondoggle


Republicans have been celebrating the bankruptcy of taxpayer-funded solar energy company Solyndra as a scandal that will taint the Obama administration and its "green jobs" push. But it's not just Democrats who are entangled in this one.

Solyndra's director of government relations since October 2010 was Victoria Sanville. According to her Linked In profile, she had spent the previous seven years working as a congressional staffer for three Republican congressmen, John Sweeney, Peter Roskam, and Michael Graves.

Another Washington-based Solyndra government-relations professional was Joseph Pasetti; his Capitol Hill experience came as an aide in the office of Alfonse D'Amato, a Republican senator from New York.

Solyndra's registered outside lobbyists at the Glover Park Group included Alex Mistri, who worked from 2005 to 2008 as special assistant to President George W. Bush, a Republican. Before that, he was chief of staff to congressman Bill Shuster, a Republican.

In 2010 and 2011, according to Senate lobbying records, Solyndra spent $130,000 on lobbyists at the Washington Tax Group LLC. Solyndra's lobbyists there included Greg Nickerson, a former aide to Republican congressmen Bill Thomas and Jim McCrery. Mr. Nickerson "served on the Delegate and Caucus Team at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York and worked as an attorney advisor to the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the 2004 and 2006 elections," according to his biography on his lobbying firm web site. Also on the Solyndra account at Washington Tax Group LLC was Jan Fowler, whose Capitol Hill experience came as an aide to another Republican, Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio.

One of Solyndra's lawyers or restructuring advisers is reportedly William Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts, a Republican.

And let's not forget that the $535 million federal loan guarantee Solyndra was eventually granted by President Obama's energy department was made under the authority not only of the Obama stimulus bill but also a program established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, signed into law by President George W. Bush, a Republican. The final Senate vote on that bill was 74-26, with the 26 senators opposed consisting of a mere 6 Republicans.

One of the leading Republican candidates for president this time around, the former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, has a jobs plan that supports funding for an Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy (ARPA-E) within the Department of Energy, which was originally funded by the Obama stimulus. "As president, Mitt Romney will redirect clean energy spending towards basic research," the Romney plan says. "Mitt Romney believes the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) model—ensuring long-term, non-political sources of funding for a wide variety of competing, early-stage technologies—holds the most potential for achieving signifcant advances in the energy sector. Investment should be channeled through programs, such as 'ARPA-E,' that seek to replicate DARPA's success in energy-related fields"

In other words, rather than simply attacking the Democrats for shoveling taxpayer money into a solar energy company that eventually failed, the Republicans might ask themselves how so many of their own former public servants wound up on the company's payroll, and why so many of their own senators and President Bush backed the law that created the loan guarantee program.

No one has accused the Republicans named above of any wrongdoing in this Solyndra situation, which has featured reports of FBI raids and company officials taking advantage of their Fifth Amendment rights. But as so often in Washington, Kinsley's Law applies—the scandal in Washington is not what's illegal, it's what's legal. The best way to clean up this one, and so many others, would be for Washington to tax and spend less. Then there'd be less money for the politicians and their former aides-turned-lobbyists to dole out, regardless of what political party they belong to.

Ira Stoll is editor of and author of Samuel Adams: A Life.


NEXT: ManBearPig, Climategate and Watermelons - A conversation with author James Delingpole

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  1. Dean Yeager: The purpose of science is to serve mankind. You seem to regard science as some kind of dodge… or hustle. Your theories are the worst kind of popular tripe, your methods are sloppy, and your conclusions are highly questionable! You are a poor scientist, President Obama.

    But the kids love us!

    1. Personally, I liked the university. They gave us money and facilities, we didn’t have to produce anything! You’ve never been out of college! You don’t know what it’s like out there! I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect results!

      1. Ghostbusters does have a Randian free market strain to it…who wrote this trash anyway?

        1. Yeah, the government doesn’t come out too well in that movie, does it?

          1. Forget it, ProL. You had your chance to co-operate, but you though it would be more fun to insult me. Now, it’s my turn, wiseass.

            1. If we ever actually go 1984, I think William Atherton’s face should be used for Big Brother. He’s perfect.

              1. Won’t work….that man has no dick.

                1. Well that’s what I heard!

                2. I don’t think they actually showed anything except Big Brother’s face, so his dicklessness is irrelevant.

                  Besides, in Real Genius, it’s strongly implied that he can hammer a six-inch spike through a board with his penis.

              2. ProL, when you first started at Hit & Run, you were well on your way to becoming another Reinmoose. And then you know what happened?

                1. I got a haircut?

                  1. That’s a wonderful story, ProL. I noticed you’ve stopped stuttering.

                    1. It’s a penis stretcher. Do you want to try it?

                    2. ProL, if you think that by threatening me you can get me to be your slave…well, that’s where you’re right. But–and I am only saying this because I care–there are a lot of decaffeinated brands on the market today that are just as tasty as the real thing.

                    3. I think the young people enjoy it when I “get down” verbally, don’t you?

                    4. Well, I guess it goes from God…to Jerry…to you…to the cleaners. Right, ProL?

                    5. This? This is ice. This is what happens to water when it gets too cold. This? This is Episiarch. This is what happens to people when they get too sexually frustrated.

                    6. You see ProL, I used to be you. And lately I’ve been missing me, so I asked Dr. Hathaway if I could room with me again and he said sure.

                    7. What are you looking at? You’re laborers; you should be laboring. That’s what you get for not having an education.

                    8. Put simply, in deference to you, ProL, it’s like lasing a stick of dynamite.

                    9. Think before you ask these questions, Episiarch! Twenty points higher than me? Thinks a big guy like that can wear his clothes?

                    10. Would you prepared if gravity reversed itself, ProL? The only thing I can’t figure out is how to keep the change in my pockets. I’ve got it. Nudity.

                    11. And from now on, stop playing with yourself!

          2. Re: Pro Libertate,

            Yeah, the government doesn’t come out too well in that movie, does it?

            I remember seeing Ghostbusters in a list of movies with an anti-skeptic slant, I think in Skeptical Inquire or maybe Michael Shermer’s mag. Anyway, it was mentioned how the skeptic in the movie (EPA inspector Walter Peck) was made fun of and treated badly. A keen-eyed subscriber, in a letter-to-the-editor published on a later issue, pointed out that rather than being an honest but misunderstood skeptic, the Walter Peck character clearly a nosey government bully who was clearly wrong in that case.

            1. That’s nuts that he’s a good skeptic. He’s an asshole who ignores evidence and who misuses his power to bully all concerned. Remember, as much as we may reject paranormal claims in reality, in the film, the shit was real.

          1. Harold Ramis is a genius. He wrote or cowrote Animal House, Caddy Shack, Ghost Busters and Groundhog day as well as others. His body of work is amazing.

  2. Of course, one of those 6 Republicans who opposed the Energy Bill was McCain (while Obama supported it), and it’s certainly not like that won McCain the votes of libertarians or others.

    So I wouldn’t be sure that supporting it would hurt Romney.

    Yeah, people claim to oppose boondoggles like these, but who actually votes on the basis of consistent voting against things like this (or farm subsidies)? Very, very few. (As opposed to the grateful recipients voting for them.)

  3. This is a ridiculously bad article. Yeah, Solyandra like many people looking to suck at the government tit, hired hacks from both sides. BFD. How does the fact that a former aide for a Republican Senator, who is no longer in office, make the Solyandra a “Republican scandal”? WTF?

    And sure it was done under a program created by George Bush. Okay. Do you have any evidence that the money given out under Bush ended up being wasted like Solyandra? If so, lets hear it. And further even if you have that, that doesn’t make Obama any less culpable for continuing the program and making a loan that the Bush Administration had refused to make?

    How does this shit get passed the editors?

    1. The world already has a David Brooks…apparently Ira thinks it needs two…and he is that number two.

      1. Reason should never be in the business of mouthing talking points from either side. It is supposed to be better than that. This article is nothing but a list of stale Democratic talking points on the subject.

        1. list of stale Democratic talking points

          What is amusing is that Tim pre-inoculated these talking points Friday night with his article on the subject.

          How does this shit get passed the editors?

          One thing that should be noted. this is an article and probably was or is going into or was intended to into the magazine which mean Matt is the editor of…but Nick is hit and runs editor. I am sure the co-authors talk but one should not expect all of Reason to have one editorial voice between its various videos and publications. In fact I think it is a strength that it doesn’t

    2. You ask how, John? How? I will tell you how. Uh….cuz some people that worked for Solyndra knew some people who worked for or were republ….wait….cuz….

      Ah…fuck it. Obama owns this lock, stock and barrel. I am not sure what Ira thinks he is doing or who he thinks he is fooling.

      How this got past the editors is a mystery.

      I am wondering when Reason is going to write about the Gunwalker operations. My god, that is the worst scandal in american history and there is mostly silence from the MSM and not much here. C’mon Reason.
      Maybe Ira could suck Obama’s cock and then write an article on how Gunwalker was all Bush’s fault.

  4. In other words, rather than simply attacking the Democrats for shoveling taxpayer money into a solar energy company that eventually failed, the Republicans might ask themselves how so many of their own former public servants wound up on the company’s payroll, and why so many of their own senators and President Bush backed the law that created the loan guarantee program.

    ummm yeah Republicans should ask why Bush sucked…

    Oh wait don’t we have like the whole fucking tea party movement doing that already?

    oh wait here is an article by Ira talking shit about the tea party for doing exactly that:…..arket.html

    Wow Ira…anyone ever tell you that you suck at your job?

    Also I eagerly await Ira’s new article which exposes democrat involvement in Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac.

  5. In other words, rather than simply attacking the Democrats for shoveling taxpayer money into a solar energy company that eventually failed, the Republicans might ask themselves how so many of their own former public servants wound up on the company’s payroll, and why so many of their own senators and President Bush backed the law that created the loan guarantee program.

    “Who is more foolish: The fool or the fool that used the newly-minted bad law to shovel money down a rat hole?”

  6. I think Stole is confusing members of the permanent establishment ruling class with your run of the mill Republicans.

  7. Executive Branch – POLITICS
    U.S. Government Used Taxpayer Funds to Buy, Sell Weapons During ‘Fast and Furious,’ Documents Show

    Not only did U.S. officials approve, allow and assist in the sale of more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa cartel — the federal government used taxpayer money to buy semi-automatic weapons, sold them to criminals and then watched as the guns disappeared.

    This disclosure, revealed in documents obtained by Fox News, could undermine the Department of Justice’s previous defense that Operation Fast and Furious was a “botched” operation where agents simply “lost track” of weapons as they were transferred from one illegal buyer to another. Instead, it heightens the culpability of the federal government as Mexico, according to sources, has opened two criminal investigations into the operation that flooded their country with illegal weapons.

    All told, the gang spent more than $1.25 million for the illegal guns.…..z1Z5wy9W23

  8. While it is a bit pedantic, at least this article disproves the claim that libertarians are just crypto-republican shills…

    …For about 10 seconds

    1. Shorter Rather: Salt is contaminating our bodily fluids!!

    2. By the way why did you stop linking to your blog?

      Did you get in trouble with the Reason web squirrels or did you succumb to the anti-blog linking Nazis?

  9. I can link my blog Chicks In Their Underwear. Just don’t go there at work or you might lose your job like Pip almost did. I’ve been too busy to update lately but the first page is “family friendly”, I think.

    1. I like vintage erotica, but pointy bras freak me out. They did on Madonna, too.

  10. All those bytes just to say the R’s are as responsible as the D’s for this mess? What waste of nibbles and bits (and those were some of my favorite nibbles and bits)…we all knew that already!

  11. This article overlooks several obvious connections:

    1. The paper used to print the 2005 Energy Policy Act was handled by several Republicans between the paper mill and the printer on which it was ultimately printed.
    2. Several Solyndra employees in the past watched Republican debates on TV.

    Arguably these damning bits of evidence are far more powerful than the points the author raises. Either way it’s clear this is all Bush’s fault.

    1. I’m a republican, therefore I’m guilty.

  12. Republicans in general are NOT celebrating the demise of Solyndra. They may be pointing to it as a current example of what happens when you let community organizers try to centrally plan a national economy, but they are not dancing around in joy.

    1. But the real problem is that R’s also believe in central planning of a national economy, they just believe they have the better economic central plan. They also have the better social engineering plan. See how that works? The problem is not that the D’s economic plan is worse or not, it’s that there is no one who doesn’t seem to want the economy/social structure engineered from D.C. for the entire nation. Party of constitution and smaller government my ass.

  13. And did you know some registered Dems voted for Nixon?
    Sorry, the point is *NOT* whether some members of party A supported some policy or other largely supported by party B.
    The question is whether a *PERSON* being a member of either major party corrupted the legal and constitutional processes for personal gain.
    Gambling $.5Bn of taxpayer money for a photo op (and possibly to reward contributors) sort of suggests that occurred.

  14. Really, if I was on the stage with Romney when he talked about making government an ally I would have business, I would have said “oh, like Solyndra”, just to see his reaction. And if he said anything along the lines of “no, we should only hand taxpayer money to successful companies”, then I can accuse him of believing that the ends justify the means.

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  16. Does nature dictate from Top->Down ? No. And man is part of nature so to be in harmony governments should be small so capital stays in private hands for much evolutionary investing.

  17. Though there are enough GOP fingerprints on Solyndra, I think this will be a case of the “Quarterback Principle” – i.e., the QB (the President in this case) gets too much credit for a win, too much blame for a loss. There’s not much chance that the mostly unseen political favor seeking of ex-GOP staffers’ trumps the very public involvement of the Federal Executive (Both President Obama and Vice President Biden were ostentatiously out in front of the Solyndra loan). Conversely, had Solyndra turned out to be the shining example of the Obama green jobs initiative, I sincerely doubt that the NY Times would have had much to say about some Congressman’s former Chief of Staff.

    When all is said and done, the President got caught trying to pick a winner from outside the free market ? a bad act by the most famous man in America. Whereas the former GOP staffers were arguably working from within the private sector and trying to leverage their public connections, a slightly lesser evil perpetrated by virtually anonymous individuals.

  18. Good to know that both the R’s and D’s, as individuals, and as collective legislative bodies, share the blame for enabling the Solyndra mess to become another Enron-type topic of discussion.
    When both the R’s and D’s quit their nanny-ism and social engineering we’ll all be the better for it.
    Just like the auto industries, they should have been left to fail.
    Interesting though that the unions which control the auto industry and the greens who attempt to wield too much power in all aspects of our economy, lifestyles, energy policy formation, ad nauseum; all seem to be solidly in the Democratic Party.
    It’s easy to throw “brick-bats” at the Congress and the President because they truly do deserve our enmity for many other reasons than this issue alone.
    My question is : how would Libertarians have handled the whole situation?

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