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Green companies with political ties to Obama receive billions in federal funds

Sunday, February 19, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: green companies, Obama, political ties

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(NaturalNews) In case you may have forgotten, one of candidate Barack Obama's central themes during his 2008 presidential bid was "change." In particular, he wanted to change the way Washington did its business, pointing out - correctly, by the way - that there was too much collusion between lawmakers and lobbying interests. There would be no room for lobbyists or special interests pulling the strings or winning undue influence in his administration, by golly.

"They won't work in my White House!" Obama shouted to a crowd in Iowa in 2007, as he began his quest for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. "They are not going to dominate my White House."

Said political newsmagazine Politico at the time, "Obama casts himself as a break from the usual Washington politicians, highlighting his refusal to take donations from lobbyists, his pledge to make government more transparent, and his intention to close the revolving door between the White House and lobbying firms."

Broken promises - early and often

Yet, the pledge not to tolerate lobbyists in his administration was a promise Obama broke the moment he took office, as his administration hired about a dozen of them right off the bat, with more to follow.

These early broken promises on pledges to change Washington's special interest culture only set the stage for further violations of the people's trust, culminating in http://www.washingtonpost.com. It seems the old axiom is true: The more things change, the more they stay the same. The only difference nowadays is that federal taxpayer dollars are flowing to firms and interests this president prefers. In Obama's case, they are so-called "green energy" or "clean energy" interests.

Just one example involves former venture capitalist Sanjay Wagle, an Obama fundraiser in 2008 who went from his private sector perch in California to the Energy Department at a time when "the administration embarked on a massive program to stimulate the economy with federal investments in clean-technology firms," the Washington Post reported.

Wagle, whose firm hoped to profit from the administration's $80 billion green-energy investment program, went directly into a position where at least some of this taxpayer-funded pot of gold would be directed.

"He was one of several players in venture capital, which was providing financial backing to start-up clean-tech companies, who moved into the Energy Department at a time when the agency was seeking outside expertise in the field," said the Post. "At the same time, their industry had a huge stake in decisions about which companies would receive government loans, grants and support."

Over the next three years the Energy Department just happened to provide $2.8 billion in funding to clean-energy companies in which Wagle's former venture capitalist firm, Vantage Point Venture Partners, invested. In all, $3.9 billion in funds were provided to 21 companies with ties to firms with connections to at least five administration advisers and staffers.

So much for the "change" part of hope and change.

Government picking losers

What's worse about all of this undue influence on a holier-than-thou president who lied about keeping out the special interests is the fact that his administration can't even pick winners. A number of these firms, including solar-panel maker Solyndra as well as green-energy companies Ener1 and Beacon Power, have all tanked, costing taxpayers billions.

The administration and the president have denied any undue outside influence in these decisions, but realists - as well as people with practical knowledge of how things work in Washington - know better.

"To believe those quiet conversations don't happen in the hallways -- about a project being in a certain congressman's district or being associated with a significant presidential donor, is naive," David Gold, a venture capitalist who doesn't like Obama's clean-energy gambits, told the Post. "When you're putting this kind of pressure on an organization to make decisions on very big dollars, there's increased likelihood that political connections will influence things."

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