MARCH 31, 2011
One of President Obama’s top fundraisers has been rewarded with more than half a billion dollars in stimulus money for “green” projects and a coveted adviser position at the federal agency that regulates his highly profitable business ventures.It’s the very cycle of money, influence and access that Obama vowed to break when he came to Washington, according to the investigative journalism group that broke the story this week. Not only has the president’s money man benefited from the astounding sums of cash the administration has dedicated to “clean energy” startups, he also has extraordinary access to the White House and serves as an adviser to the cabinet official (Energy Secretary Steven Chu) who regulates his industry.The prolific Democratic fundraiser, Steve Westly, worked in the Jimmy Carter Administration and was once a public official in California where he currently operates a lucrative “green” business (Westly Group) that’s boomed in just a few years. The Westly Group has raked in more than half a billion dollars in loans, grants or stimulus money from the Department of Energy which is doling out around $35 billion to politically-connected businesses that help reduce pollution.A frequent White House visitor Westly is also a member of a government advisory board on energy policy, which means he actually “advises” Energy Secretary Chu, the administration official in charge of distributing the agency’s green startup cash. The money is supposed to help clean technology firms expand in order to meet Obama’s goal of lowering dependence on foreign oil.More than 90% of the companies that apply for the federal dollars are rejected, yet Westly has easily secured the public funding for three of his firms. The government aid is important because it lends companies credibility and helps attract investors. Other Obama donors have also received big chunks of federal dollars for their clean energy endeavors, including another California billionaire who serves on the president’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board and an Oklahoma oil magnet who bundled tens of thousands of dollars for his 2008 campaign.Obama must keep his top fundraisers happy because he will need their services—and cash—in 2012. Westly is one of about 50 “bundlers” who raised more than half a million dollars for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Undoubtedly, Westly is expected to step up to the plate in 2012 so Uncle Sam will likely continue filling his coffers with cash for innovative “green” projects.
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