Documents produced by the Department of the Treasury in response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request regarding the purchase of a former General Motors plant in Wilmington, Delaware by automotive start-up Fisker.
Is the Fisker Automotive Loan Another Solyndra?
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on February 1, 2012, against the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to obtain records regarding a $529 million loan granted by the DOE to Fisker Automotive for the manufacture of Karma and Nina electric vehicles (Judicial Watch v. Department of Energy (No. 12-171)). While the Obama White House and DOE promoted the loan as a means to generate American jobs, Fisker, which has facilities in California and Delaware, came under fire in 2011 for manufacturing cars in Finland and was recently beset with massive layoffs at their domestic operations.
Pursuant to the Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed with the Department of Energy on November 15, 2011, Judicial Watch seeks the following:
Any and all records of communications between the Department of Energy and the following entities concerning and/or relating to the Department of Energy’s $529 million dollar loan to Fisker Automotive:
a. Fisker Automotive
b. Valmet Automotive
c. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
d. General Investment Management
e. The Alliance for Climate Protection
f. The United Auto Workers (UAW), The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), and/or any other labor unions
g. The government of Finland
h. The White House
i. The Executive Office of the President
j. The U.S. Congress
The time period covered by the request was October 1, 2009 through November 15, 2011.
The DOE acknowledged receiving the FOIA request on November 25, 2011, but did not state when the requested documents would be provided. By law, a response was required by December 23, 2011. As of February 1, 2012, the date of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, the DOE has failed to release any documents or indicate when documents are forthcoming. The Obama DOE has not claimed that such records are exempt from Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.
On October 27, 2009, former Delaware Senator and current Vice President Joe Biden announced during a press event that $359 million from the DOE loan would be used to reopen a closed General Motors (GM) manufacturing facility in Wilmington, Delaware, which would serve as Fisker’s “primary global manufacturing facility.” Biden told the crowd of mostly UAW workers, who had previously worked at the plant when it was owned by GM, “imagine when this factory, when the floor we’re standing on right now is making 100,000 plug-in hybrid sedans, coupes and crossovers every single year.” (Given Joe Biden’s advanced knowledge of Fisker’s production plans, Judicial Watch has been separately investigating whether there was any quid pro quo between Fisker and the Vice President related to the plant purchase in his home state. As reported in The Detroit News, Judicial Watch already has uncovered email showing that Delaware politicians sought help from the Obama White House to obtain the DOE money.)
At the time of the announcement, Energy Secretary Steven Chu indicated the Fisker loan was “proof positive” that the Obama administration was “putting Americans back to work.” However, as reported by ABC News, Fisker came under fire in 2011 for assembling its first line of cars in Finland and for lengthy delays in producing the volume of cars bankrolled, in part, with the DOE loan.
Moreover, as reported by Politico, the company is now beset with massive layoffs in its Delaware and California operations as it seeks additional government funding.
“It looks like the Obama administration has another Solyndra mess on its hands, which is why they’re stonewalling the release of records regarding this shady Fisker deal,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Once again the Obama administration shelled out over half-a-billion dollars to a failing and incompetent green energy company. To soften the blow to taxpayers, Vice President Biden promised new jobs in his home state of Delaware that were ultimately shipped overseas to Finland as Fisker’s U.S. operations deteriorated. This loan was another flagrant waste of taxpayer dollars and just the kind of corrupt business deal one might expect when the federal government meddles in the private sector. The Obama administration needs to come clean on this deal and turn off the government spigot to Fisker. Our new lawsuit shows that the Obama administration is in full-blown cover-up mode in order to prevent the American people from accessing records about this latest debacle.”