SEPTEMBER 16, 2011
September 16, 2011
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Solyndra Scandal Hits Obama White House
Two weeks ago, alternative energy company Solyndra, which received $535 million in “stimulus” loan guarantees from the Obama administration, collapsed. Solyndra was the poster child for the Obama administration’s claim that it could create green jobs with taxpayer money. Now 1,100 more people are out of work and American taxpayers are on the hook for half a billion dollars.
But while this ought to be an abject embarrassment for the dirigistes in the Obama administration, there’s a much bigger story behind the Solyndra scandal. It involves a concerted effort by White House officials to improperly rush the Solyndra loan decision for political reasons.
The Washington Post had the exclusive story:
The Obama White House tried to rush federal reviewers for a decision on a nearly half-billion-dollar loan to the solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra so Vice President Biden could announce the approval at a September 2009 groundbreaking for the company’s factory, newly obtained e-mails show.
The Silicon Valley company, a centerpiece in President Obama’s initiative to develop clean energy technologies, had been tentatively approved for the loan by the Energy Department but was awaiting a final financial review by the Office of Management and Budget.
The August 2009 e-mails, released exclusively to The Washington Post, show White House officials repeatedly asking OMB reviewers when they would be able to decide on the federal loan and noting a looming press event at which they planned to announce the deal. In response, OMB officials expressed concern that they were being rushed to approve the company’s project without adequate time to assess the risk to taxpayers, according to information provided by Republican congressional investigators.
The Post goes on to detail some of these email messages. Here’s one of them:
“We have ended up with a situation of having to do rushed approvals on a couple of occasions (and we are worried about Solyndra at the end of the week),” one official wrote. That Aug. 31, 2009, message, written by a senior OMB staffer and sent to Terrell P. McSweeny, Biden’s domestic policy adviser, concluded, “We would prefer to have sufficient time to do our due diligence reviews.”
Now here’s where mere incompetence turns into corruption. Want to guess the name of Solyndra’s biggest financial backer? Tulsa billionaire and Obama fundraiser George Kaiser.
So, in sum, the Obama administration rushed through a half billion dollar bailout loan to a now bankrupt alternative energy company bankrolled by one of Barack Obama’s top campaign fundraisers!
But wait, there’s more.
The Washington Post article coincides, not coincidentally, with a House Energy and Commerce Committee investigation and hearing this week that is exposing the Solyndra issue as a major scandal for this administration. While we appreciate Congress’ work, we think it is important that an independent investigation is conducted, free of politics, into this matter. Accordingly, Judicial Watch has launched a full investigation of its own. We’ve already submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the Department of Energy (DOE), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Treasury Department and the General Accounting Office (GAO) for records related to the loan guarantee, interagency communication regarding the loan and communications with Solyndra’s private financiers.
While JW’s probe is still in its early stages, here are a few things our experienced investigators have already dug up:
- According to a July 2010 GAO report, “DOE’s implementation of the [loan guarantee] program has favored some applicants and disadvantaged others in a number of ways.” The GAO cites five companies DOE handed conditional financial commitments to before receiving reports from external reviewers. Solyndra was one of them.
- Argonaut Ventures, LLC, controlled by Obama fundraiser Kaiser, owns 39% of Solyndra. Kaiser, the 64th richest person in the world, was an Obama campaign bundler who raised $50,000 for the Obama presidential campaign. He made no less than nine visits to the White House between March 12, 2009, and April 14, 2011, including a June 25, 2009, visit with Valerie Jarrett and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. A number of Solyndra officers have visited the Obama White House as well, including the company’s CEO. (Yet another example of why JW is fighting so hard in court (with great success) to obtain ALL Obama White House visitor logs which are so important.)
- Solyndra was never close to solvent. According to a document filed by the company with the SEC on March 18, 2010: “We have incurred significant net losses since our inception, including a net loss of $114.1 million in fiscal 2007, $232.1 million in fiscal 2008 and $172.5 million in fiscal 2009, and we had an accumulated deficit of $557.7 million at January 2, 2010. We expect to continue to incur significant operating and net losses and negative cash flow from operations for the foreseeable future…”
- The government’s interest rate on the Solyndra loan is significantly lower (at least 50% lower), than the interest rates given to other beneficiaries of DOE stimulus funds. For example Kahaku Wind Power received an interest rate of 3.406% from the federal government. Solyndra’s interest rates ranged between 1.025 to 1.515%.
- During a February 2011 restructuring, the DOE weakened its creditor position to benefit Argonaut/Kaiser. According to Forbes: “As its finances deteriorated, Solyndra restructured its debt in February. Argonaut Ventures, which owns 38.99% of Solyndra, led a group that agreed to make a $75 million loan available in exchange for the right to be repaid first if the company failed. Next in line is the U.S. government – i.e. the taxpayers – who are owed the $527 million given to Solyndra to build the robotic assembly plant known as Fab 2.” But under the terms of loan agreement, the American taxpayers were, by law, first in line for repayment.
As I say, our investigation is ongoing. This is just the tip of the iceberg. For instance, there’s a report in the Post today detailing how the Obama administration was more concerned about how it might look politically if Solyndra failed than about the possibility of outrageous losses to the American taxpayer.
- DOJ Protects Teachers With Unacceptable English Skills
- Internal Docs List Crimes Tied To ATF Gun Operation
- $500k For Hip-Hop Public School
- Report “Fishy” Speech Part II
- Another $30 Mil For A “Green” Project
- HHS Privately Calls Obamacare “Recipe For Disaster”
- U.S. Spends $10.7 Mil To Train “Low Literacy” Latinos
I have a take that some hack Republicans may not like. The DOE loan guarantee program is authorized under a horrible law, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, signed by President George W. Bush with the support of most Republicans (and then-Senator Obama). This law came out of the secretive Cheney Energy Task Force, which in order to expose its inner-workings Judicial Watch famously took all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Our investigations did find that the Task Force was little more than a special interest bazaar through which environmentalists, companies and industries could make the case for government subsidies of their pet projects and concerns. So it was no surprise that the illegally secretive Task Force resulted in a law designed to dish taxpayer monies to favored corporations and interests. In my experience, corrupt and secretive government processes lead to corrupt and wasteful legislation. That is true with Obamacare and it is true with the Bush energy law.
So it is also no surprise that a committed socialist like Obama would happily use the Bush energy law’s provisions to spend billions to help companies like Solyndra. Judicial Watch took some flak from some of our conservative friends for opposing the Bush administration over this secret Task Force. The lesson out of all this for liberals who hate Bush and conservatives critical of Obama is that Big Government, Big Secrecy and Big Corruption walk together, hand in hand.
Much more to come…
Gardasil and Presidential Politics
The HPV vaccine is back in the news this week courtesy of Monday’s debate among Republican candidates for president. At issue is Texas Governor Rick Perry’s horrible decision in February 2007 to require sixth grade girls to be administered the controversial Gardasil vaccine against Human Papillomavirus (HPV). He did not wait for the legislature to act. He imposed the requirement via executive order. (Thankfully it was rescinded by both houses of the Texas legislature in May 2007.) Judicial Watch has been a national leader in investigating the Gardasil push.
During the debate, Governor Perry, the current front-runner for the Republican nomination, took sustained fire from his opponents over the issue, especially Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann. Politico had the story:
Michele Bachmann accused Rick Perry of using sixth-grade girls as profit engines for a drug company at the CNN/Tea Party Express debate, lacing into the Texas governor for having attempted to mandate the HPV vaccine for young teenagers.
“To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just wrong,” Bachmann said. “Little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don’t get a mulligan.”
Judicial Watch knows quite a bit about the “negative reactions” experienced by girls who have been forced to take Gardasil. Our Gardasil investigation, which began in May 2007, has unearthed shocking incidents of death and illness caused by the vaccine as detailed in “adverse reaction” reports obtained by JW from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There have been literally thousands of cases documented in these reports, which read like a catalog of horrors.
Here are just a few examples from the last batch of reports we uncovered through the Freedom of Information Act one year ago in September 2010. Warning, this information is very graphic:
- A nineteen year old girl with no medical history except occasional cases bronchitis received Gardasil and in 53 days, had “Headache, Nausea, dizziness, chilling, tiredness, shortness of breath, complained of chest plain, severe cramps.” She experienced an Acute Cardiac Arrhythmia. Attempts to resuscitate her resulted in a sternal fracture, but were unsuccessful and the patient died. — V. 356938
- A thirteen year old girl was vaccinated on July 17, 2009. Ten days later, she developed a fever and was treated. However, “the patient did not recover and was admitted to the hospital on [August 8]…She developed dyspnoea and went into coma…she expired [that day] at around 9:00 pm. The cause of death was determined as ‘death due to viral fever.’ … This event occurred after 23 days of receiving first dose of Gardasil.” — V. 380081
- Thirteen days after vaccination, a ten year old girl developed “progressive loss of strength in lower and upper extremities almost totally…Nerve conduction studies [showed Guillain Barre Syndrome].” Case was “considered to be immediately life-threatening.” — V. 339375
One mother of a 13-year-old girl who died 37 days after receiving the vaccination noted in a report: “I first declined getting her the vaccination but her doctor ensured me that it was safe…” After her daughter complained of a severe headache, no feeling in her foot and a tingling feeling in her leg, a doctor’s appointment was set for October 23, 2009. “My daughter never made it to Oct[ober] 23rd, which is also her birthday,” the mother noted. “She passed on Oct[ober] 17th, I found her cold unresponsive in her room at 7am….”
In response to the concerns raised by Judicial Watch, the CDC and other public health authorities have been forced to admit some of the dangers of Gardasil. Importantly, these agencies are now deploying damage control measures in an attempt to minimize the Gardasil related deaths:
As of June 22, 2011 there have been a total 68 VAERS reports of death among those who have received Gardasil®. There were 54 reports among females, 3 were among males, and 11 were reports of unknown gender. Thirty two of the total death reports have been confirmed and 36 remain unconfirmed due to no identifiable patient information in the report such as a name and contact information to confirm the report. A death report is confirmed (verified) after a medical doctor reviews the report and any associated records. In the 32 reports confirmed, there was no unusual pattern or clustering to the deaths that would suggest that they were caused by the vaccine and some reports indicated a cause of death unrelated to vaccination.
Not exactly reassuring, is it?
Now, the question that inevitably follows is this: Why would the government consider mandating the use of a vaccine of questionable effectiveness that has proven to be deadly? Bachmann took this question up during the debate.
The Minnesota congresswoman went even further, accusing Perry of handing out favors to a company, Merck, represented by his former top aide, Mike Toomey.
“There was a big drug company that made millions of dollars because of this mandate,” Bachmann said. “The governor’s former chief of staff was the chief lobbyist for this drug company.”
Governor Perry denied the accusation. But there’s no denying that Merck employed a massive lobbying campaign to force the government to mandate the Gardasil vaccine: “Merck lobbied every opinion leader, women’s group, medical society, politicians, and went directly to the people — it created a sense of panic that says you have to have this vaccine now,” Dr. Diane Harper told The New York Times. (Dr. Harper was the principle investigator on the clinical trials of Gardasil.) “Because Merck was so aggressive, it went too fast.”
Lightning fast. The FDA inexplicably fast-tracked the vaccine as it quickly moved from “newly minted vaccine to must-have injection,” as noted by the Times. Judicial Watch and public pressure put a stop to Merck’s efforts to lobby the government to mandate the vaccine, at least for now. Hopefully, given the attention to Governor Perry’s decision, this vaccine itself will get a second look.
The “grown-ups” in the media suggest that, while it is fair game to raise questions about the reasons behind Perry’s decision to mandate the vaccinations, no one can reasonaby challenge the vaccine itself. Judicial Watch begs to differ. And so did the New England Journal of Medicine:
Policymakers, clinicians, and parents have a keen sense of urgency about HPV vaccination. On one hand, the vaccine has high efficacy against certain HPV types that cause life-threatening disease, and it appears to be safe; delaying vaccination may mean that many women will miss an opportunity for long-lasting protection. On the other hand, a cautious approach may be warranted in light of important unanswered questions about overall vaccine effectiveness, duration of protection, and adverse effects that may emerge over time. HPV vaccination has the potential for profound public health benefit if the most optimistic scenario of effectiveness is realized.
Given all the questions about Gardasil, the best public health policy would be to reevaluate its safety and to prohibit its distribution to minors. At a minimum, governments should rethink any efforts to mandate or promote this vaccine for children. We should end the public health experiment that is the Gardasil vaccination effort.
JW and Arizona State Legislature Call on Supreme Court to Resolve Obama Attack on SB 1070
When the Obama administration brazenly sued Arizona over its illegal immigration enforcement law, SB 1070, the dispute was widely expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court. That day may soon be at hand.
On September 12, we filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Arizona State Legislature, supporting the State of Arizona’s petition to the Supreme Court to review the Obama administration’s lawsuit against SB 1070.
As you may recall, on April 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld an injunction against enforcement of some of the law’s provisions, prompting the State of Arizona’s petition.
The Arizona State Legislature, which is now a defendant represented by JW in the Obama administration lawsuit, argues in its brief that SB 1070 is completely consistent with federal law:
…The [Arizona] Legislature invoked its well established police powers in crafting SB 1070, for the purpose of protecting the people of Arizona. Rather than welcoming the Legislature’s enactment, the United States sued Arizona.
Contrary to the view of the United States, not every state action related to aliens is preempted by federal law. …Only the determination of who should or should not be admitted into the country, and the conditions under which that person may remain, is the regulation of immigration.
Accordingly, the Legislature enacted SB 1070 in reliance on the principle that it had authority to utilize well-established police powers in areas touching on immigration…
Now, regarding those provisions that are currently blocked from being enforced due to the court’s injunction, the Arizona legislature wants them reinstated. These provisions, the legislature argues, would “significantly assist Arizona’s effort to protect its citizens from the adverse effects of illegal immigration.”
And I’m sure you’ll agree with me that they are also eminently reasonable! Here’s what these disputed provisions will do:
- Provide additional guidance to Arizona law enforcement officers as to how to interact with individuals who may not be lawfully present. [Section 2(B)]
- Utilize ordinary state police powers to create state criminal penalties for the failure to comply with federal law. [Section 3]
- Invoke Arizona’s broad authority to regulate employment under its police powers to protect its economy and lawfully resident labor force from the harmful effects resulting from the employment of unlawfully present aliens. [Section 5(C)]
- Re-emphasize Arizona law enforcement officers’ pre-existing warrantless arrest authority by authorizing a warrantless arrest of an individual who has already been determined to have committed a public offense that makes him removable. [Section 6]
As you know, Judicial Watch is intimately involved in this critical illegal immigration battle. We filed our “Motion to Intervene,” on behalf of the Arizona State Legislature on February 11, 2011, a motion granted by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton over the objections of the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) less than two months later on April 5. We also represented Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce, the author of SB 1070, who issued this statement regarding the Supreme Court amicus brief:
States have an inherent duty under law and the Constitution to protect their citizens from those who break our laws. I pray the Supreme Court honors states’ inherent authority and right under the police powers and supports Arizona in the protection of our state from the Obama administration, who has sided with foreign governments against our state and our citizens. The Obama administration’s attack on our state’s sovereign right to defend itself from the illegal alien invasion is unconscionable. Already, the enacted provisions of SB 1070 have helped reduce crime significantly and led to a mass exodus of illegal aliens from our state. I know President Obama needs votes from the open borders crowd and those who benefit from this invasion, and doesn’t want the immigration laws enforced. He has made that abundantly clear by his recent actions to reward those who have broken our laws. He has refused to protect American jobs and the rights of our citizens — Arizona will continue to take common sense steps to protect its own citizens and our border.
From the very beginning, we have made our position crystal clear. The Arizona State Legislature has the right to pass laws to protect its citizens from the scourge of illegal immigration. And the Arizona legislature crafted SB 1070 in a manner completely consistent with federal law.
The Obama DOJ should do its job and start enforcing illegal immigration laws instead of attacking states that are lawfully attempting to deal with the problems of rampant illegal immigration. The Obama administration’s lawless approach to illegal immigration is a crisis that must be addressed. And we hope the U.S. Supreme Court accepts the State of Arizona’s petition, protects the rule of law and upholds the rights of the States to protect its citizens.
Until next week…
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