Thursday, February 7, 2013

Obama's Jobs Council Closed: Mega-Rich Member Penny Pritzker "Rumored" for Commerce Job, “Related” to Two Large Green Corruption Stories

From Penny Pritzker News 
Penny Pritzker, left, with former Federal Reserve
Chairman Paul Volcker, center, and President Barack
Obama, right, at a May 20, 2009 meeting of the
Economic Recovery Advisory Board
President Obama’s Jobs Council Down: Five Raked in Billions of Green Stimulus Funds, Including Billionaire Penny Pritzker

If you haven't heard the latest on the jobs front, just two years and four meetings later, President Obama closed down his Jobs Council last Thursday. A day later, unemployment "ticked up to 7.9 percent, and remains higher than it was when Obama took office and has consistently been higher than the 7 percent mark the White House promised it would not cross if Congress passed the so-called stimulus package taken up during the president's first months in office,” reports U.S. News & World Report.

“Obama is reportedly irked by the fact that the jobs council has recommended lifting regulations rather than creating new ones. Since the American people obviously did not hold Obama accountable for his economic failures as president, he is now going to focus on other issues: climate change, gun control, abortion, and immigration,” writes Breibart News.

Since its creation, the members have pushed for renewable energy subsidies. In October 2011, these Obama advisors issued a report calling for among other things, “a new federal financing program to attract private investment for clean energy projects via loan guarantees and other tools.” This request is on top of the $80 billion of "green earmarks" that has been flowing out of the 2009-Recovery Act as well as other agencies fueling clean energy projects like the Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), etc. Furthermore, the Obama administration fires up new climate legislation, regulations and mandates, which benefits special interest groups while adversely affecting American families.

So we say goodbye to Obama’s Jobs Council –– a panel full of "deep-pocket Democratic donors and high-profile financiers" of Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, noted ABC News in 2011. Meanwhile several were Obama campaign bundlers and it included its share of union representatives like AFL-CIO’s left-wing "elitist" Richard Trumka.

During its February 2011 implementation, The Wall Street Journal pointed out, "The group is long on White House regulars, golf partners and meal guests." A jobs panel by the way –– those that have been advising the president on how to create jobs and grow the economy, of which many were recruited from President Obama's February 2009 Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB) enacted by an "executive order" –– whereas the majority are known for “job outsourcing.

If you’ve been following any of my Green Corruption stories, since December I’ve been unraveling a new series "Spreading the Wealth to Obama's Ultra-Rich Jobs Council," exposing the five panel members that have received billions of “green” funds, the majority coming from the 2009-Recovery Act. So far I’ve covered Jeffrey Immelt, John Doerr, Lewis Hay, and today I will tackle the Hyatt heiress that raised more than $900,000 for Obama's two campaigns –– billionaire Penny Pritzker, also "rumored for Commerce Job" –– although recent reports show it could soon become a reality.

Obama’s Last Commerce Secretary

This is the same position that was held by John Bryson –– entangled in a huge piece of this Green Corruption scandal –– who was BrightSource Energy’s chairman of the board prior to his appointment as Secretary of Commerce with the Obama White House in May 2011. Although Bryson resigned in June 2012 following some mysterious auto accidents, his and the current BrightSource CEO John Woolard's political influence was no mishap.

Bryson has ties to the left-wing organization the Apollo Alliance as well as the politically powerful billionaire George Soros –– both helped craft the stimulus package, a trillion-dollar influx of taxpayer cash that eventually bailed out BrightSource. The firm was part of an intense push in 2011 that involved meaningful Democrat connections –– donors, investors, and stakeholders –– and correspondences with President Obama as well as the White House and Department of Energy Officials.

Throw in the fact that BrightSource has an array of investors that happen to be high-powered Obama donors like Goldman Sachs, Google, BP Alternative Energy, and VantagePoint Capital. Add in Bernie Toon, who served then-Senator Joe Biden as his Chief of Staff, who became a lobbyist for BrightSource Energy on March 6, 2011, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for guaranteed success. And it doesn’t hurt that many of the parties involved frequented the White House during the DOE loan review process.

Despite the fact that BrightSource was one of 22 (out of 26) projects from the 1705 Loan Guarantee Program –– created under the 2009-Recovery Act –– which were rated as "junk bond" status, that didn’t sway the DOE in the least. Because on April 11, 2011, the DOE announced the finalization of $1.6 billion in loan guarantees for BrightSource’s Ivanpah project, which created a whopping 1000 construction and 86 permanent jobs. These were projects that were funded by the DOE with $16 billion of taxpayer money, of which we can confirm that over 90 percent are politically connected to the president and other high-ranking Democrats –– some both.

However, the BrightSource push started as early as September 2009, as reflected in the House Oversight leaked emails that were unleashed late October 2012 –– a treasure trove of inside DOE Intel –– which not only confirms the above shady scenario, it implicates more BrightSource executives and stakeholders, DOE officials as well as Obama’s Green Team and several in Congress from the Democrat side.

In the 350+ page Appendix II, I found ongoing interaction and pressure from the heavy weight K Street firm McBee Strategic Consulting, which substantiates Timothy Carney's (the Examiner) statement, “K Street is the epicenter of this green-industrial complex, and ground zero might be the firm founded by Democratic revolving-door earmark lobbyist Steve McBee.” Carney goes on with an interesting discovery; McBee ­­[a cap-and-trade pusher] “reportedly wrote key provisions in the stimulus bill to open the spigot of green corporate welfare.”

The “BrightSource Billion Dollar Shady DOE Deal,” which also received special treatment by the Department of Interior (part of our “Special Seven Series” last summer), plot thickens because along with Google and BrightSource, “NRG is the lead investor (sometime in October 2010 during the time of their DOE loan process) of the 392 MW Ivanpah project currently being developed in southeastern California's Mojave Desert.”

The NRG piece to this green deal was underreported, as was the fact that NRG Energy Inc. (BrightSource) is "the number one recipient of most the 1705 loans."  If you’re not aware, NRG is connected to George Soros, an Obama donor and 2009-Recovery Act advisor, who "in the first quarter of 2009, went on a stock buying spree in companies that ultimately benefited from the federal stimulus," including NRG Energy –– a huge revelation featured in Peter Schweizer's blockbuster 2011 release that rocked the Washington establishment, Throw Them All Out, which I touched upon last May when NRG Energy landed on the "DOE Cronyism Hot Seat." More damaging details in the works, but I digress…

Billionaire Penny Pritzker

Penny Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt Hotel and Pritzker family fortune, was a key fundraiser for Barack Obama's presidential run in 2008. She’s the CEO of PSP Capital Partners and Pritzker Realty Group, and ranked in Forbes 400 list among the wealthiest in America. Also from the PERAB, Pritzker was one of the “elect members” of the president's Jobs Council, whom wears many liberal hats, including many prominent positions like the 2008 National Finance Chair of the Barack Obama for President campaign and co-chair of the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee, yet played a less significant role in Obama’s 2012 reelection.

Ms. Pritzker is related to the Telsa Motors $465 million loan and its 1500 jobs via the fact that –– besides Obama bundlers, big donors, and DOE insiders –– another Tesla investor is another billionaire Nicholas J. Pritzker, partner at Tao Ventures and senior development advisor for Hyatt Hotels Corp, also a donor to Obama and a cousin of Penny Pritzker –– both from Chicago.

Created under Section 136 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program (ATVM) –– not part of the 2009-Recovery Act –– holds authority to award up to $25 billion in direct loans, however, thus far the Obama administration has approved five loans worth $8.4 billion of taxpayer money.

In 2011, IWatch took notice into the DOE's "risky $1 billion bet on two politically-connected electric car builders," stating, “To date (2011), records show, more than 95 percent of applicants are still awaiting approval or have been rejected.” And that “both companies have political heavyweights behind them.”

This was a story had alluded to in 2010 and elaborated on in November 2012 –– “Cruising Down the Green Cronyism Road,” where I tracked the $8.4 billion of ATVM money to the "favored five." At that time, Marita Noon, energy columnist at  –– my cohort in exposing this massive Green Corruption scandal  –– and I were given an exclusive regarding XP Technologies, an ATVM applicant, which filed a lawsuit against the federal government citing “corruption and negligence.” Three have direct ties to the president: Telsa as well as Fisker Auto, which is an investment of another jobs council member, John Doerr. NOTE: You can find my full report that I released a few weeks ago, “Bank of Obama: John Doerr and Al Gore of Kleiner Perkins, the Mother of All Green Energy Stimulus Money Winners.”

The one that slipped through the cracks is the $50 million ATVM loan that went to Vehicle Production Group and is part of the “Beacon Bust Tied to Obama Bundler and VP Hunter, the Infamous Washington Fixture, James A. Johnson” narrative that I shared last summer. Meanwhile the other two, Ford Motor Co. and Nissan, were heavily engaged in negotiations with the Obama administration over fuel economy standards for model years 2012- 2016 at the time DOE was considering their applications."

The Telsa Tale

Weeks to go before the 2012 election, “the DOE restructured its $465 million loan to the electric-car company to make sure it didn’t run out of cash,” reported the National Review Online. And toward the end of 2012, things were looking bad for Telsa, “Given the ugly state of Tesla’s finances — and the company’s sky-high valuation: almost $4 billion — it will rank among the top candidates in Silicon Valley for a 2013 stock collapse, unless it receives significantly more cash next year,” says The Wall Street Journal, Market Watch. Thus Telsa made it on my 2012 Green Energy Failure Alert List (total at 52), and we'll keep watch to see where Telsa lands.

While Pritzker’s connection appears to be minute, the "Telsa Tale" is gigantic with an array of Democrat cronies, including big Venture Capitalists with close White House ties and a few former and current DOE Insiders.

Tesla’s founder and CEO, billionaire Elon Musk, "is a hearty political contributor who has primarily backed Democrats, including Obama." Musk has other companies that raked in millions of “green” tax dollars, and last December one of them became part of a trio of solar companies that are “under investigation for potentially inflating costs in order to draw down more money from a stimulus-funded loan program –– all three boast investors with significant ties to the Obama White House,” as reported by Lachlan Markay on the Heritage’s Foundry.

The one relevant to this Green Corruption account is SolarCity, of which Mr. Nick Pritzker is also an investor, and we’ll get to them in a bit.

Meanwhile Steve Spinner, former DOE Loan Programs Advisor (from April 2009 to September 2011) –– known for his role in the Solyndra saga, who made a special DNC 2012 cameo –– is a two-time Obama bundler, and was an advisor to Telsa before he joined the Obama camp. In the mix we find Steve Westly, former Telsa Board member, the Founder and Managing Partner of The Westly Group, a DOE Insider, and another Obama crony who made a DNC cameo. Tesla Motors prime backers also include a major fundraiser for Obama; Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are two more investors that pumped money into Tesla Motors. Later, Goldman Sachs, the number two 2008 Obama donor, with their DNA all over "green," handled the Tesla Motors IPO.

But in my “Bank of Obama” piece I laid out quite a few Venture Capitalists tied to Kleiner Perkins that snagged a string of loans, grants and special tax breaks for their clean energy investments –– noting how large percentage of portfolios won big green money. All have direct connections to President Obama in the form of bundlers, donors and special buddies, and two have also invested in Telsa; The Westly Group and Vantage Point Capital Partners.

However, the bigger story may not be found in a green car, but in solar panels…

The SolarCity Story

As I stated earlier, the same Telsa investors, Mr. Musk and Mr. Pritzker are also investors in SolarCity, while Elon Musk is the chairman of the board, and recently purchased a 20,000-square-foot estate in Bel Air for $17 million.

As reported by the Washington Post mid December, “SolarCity, SunRun and Sungevity have received subpoenas from the Treasury Department’s office of inspector general for financial records to justify more than $500 million in federal grants and tax credits the firms tapped for performing work. The probe seeks to determine whether the companies accurately reported the market value of their costs when applying for federal reimbursement, which was calculated at one-third of the costs” –– a probe that started for SolarCity sometime in July 2012, and was confirmed via the filing of their initial public offering (IPO) in October 2012, of which "Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Credit Suisse Group AG and Bank of America Corp. led SolarCity’s IPO."

According to Fox News, “Together, the three companies reportedly have claimed more than $500 million in taxpayer support,” while SolarCity has applied for $341 million in grants. This was from the same program that I had written extensively about in my Big Wind story a few weeks ago, another green government cash freebie blowing out of the stimulus package. The 1603 Renewable Energy Grant Program –– a relative of the Production Tax Credit (PTC), and to date, the Treasury Department has doled out $16 billion, where approximately one-quarter has been shipped to foreign corporations, meanwhile the rest is fueling corporate welfare here in the United States as well as the egregious practice of crony capitalism running rampant in this administration. 

What's not widely known is that SolarCity was a DOE loan applicant, seeking $275 million, and made it through the first phase. However, in the end (September 2011), it was rejected –– SolarCity said "The [Solyndra] scrutiny prompted the agency to request additional information," and apparently they couldn't get it done in time.

Ironically a month earlier (August 2011), this loan was a GO...

Inside the 10/31/12 House Oversight emails that I briefly highlighted when I touched upon BrightSource's billion-dollar DOE deal, in the 350+ page Appendix II we find a few email interactions in August 2011 regarding the SolarCity transaction.
  • Jonathan Silver, former Executive Director of the Loans Programs Office at the Department of Energy (from 2009, and resigned in early October 2011) 
  • Peter O'Rourke: Senior Advisor to the Executive Director Loan Programs Office U.S. Department of Energy 
O'Rourke writes to Silver –– subject: strong; dated August 2, 2011 –– "Matt said that Strong will not be eligible for 1703, per the WH and Poneman (Daniel B. Poneman is the Deputy Secretary of Energy since April 20, 2009)... this is going to be a disaster. They will delay so that we can't close by Sept 30, and it's not going to get 1703. I'm really uncomfortable with how this is being handled, from a reputation and other standpoints."

Two days later, O'Rourke writes again to Silver and cc's Matt Winters (Matthew Winters is the Department of Energy Policy Advisor) –– subject line: update –– "I've been told that the WH will call tomorrow and tell the DOE that Strong is a 'go' and should move as quickly as possible. Will believe it when see it."
That same day, Silver responds at 10:49PM, "Perhaps our additional efforts paid off. They can't hate us much more than they do. Its so much fun to end run them."

O'Rourke counters at 11:19 PM, "between you/Matt/s2 and SolarCity's major push, it was a very effective." NOTE: If S1 = Secretary Chu, then I'm assuming S2 = Poneman

The "Strong" referenced here is SolarCity's "Project SolarStrong™ –– "a plan to provide solar power to up to 120,000 military housing units, and create up to 300 megawatts of solar generation capacity." However, in November 2011, "Armed with the documentation and rationale for this project, SolarCity found a willing partner in Bank of America for $350 million" (Bank of America/Merrill Lynch were both on the 2008 Obama Top Donors list).  The bailed out bank –– bogus bonuses and all –– Bank of America is "the second biggest recipient of federal assistance, which racked up $336.1 billion in federal help," recently revealed by CNBC. However, what most don't know is that Bank of America also has quite a few "green" project winners in their vault as well, of which I had alluded to in May 2012, but there is much more to tell.

While SolarCity's $275 million DOE deal fell apart due to the 2011 Solyndra "red flags," we do know that as of December 2012, "SolarCity currently benefits from tax credits totaling as much as 30 percent of the cost of these systems," notes Bloomberg. Moreover, as documented, SolarCity has applied for $341 million in grants, but I found 27 1603 grants for "USB SolarCity Master Tenant," which ranges over 15 states, totaling over $88 million. With this type of tally, it's difficult to say exactly how much tax-free cash SolarCity has received or will be given in the future.

Prior to entering the federal probe spotlight, SolarCity had already lined up hundreds of millions in solar funds from investors and various partnerships, which are big players in this green-energy scheme. Besides Bank of America's November 2011 entry, and sometime before July 2010, former vice president and future first "carbon billionaire" Al Gore's firm Generation Investment Management LLP became part of the SolarCity family.

Later, in February 2011, Citi "jumped solidly into the residential solar installation market by agreeing to back $40 million in solar installations by SolarCity." In between, SolarCity has developed partnerships with a few other stimulus winners like PG& E, Google, San Jose's GreenWaste Recovery, and they even teamed up with Telsa (along with an $800,000 California grant).

Enter in another liberal billionaire bigwig to the list of SolarCity kin...

In February 2012, Silver Lake Kraftwerk and others invested $81 million into the California solar firm SolarCity, which is significant to this Green Corruption series. Silver Lake is the VC firm of billionaire liberal financier George Soros (mentioned earlier under NRG Energy) that "employs former Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency Cathy Zoi, who oversaw the disbursement of more than $30 billion in green energy stimulus funds in her Department of Energy post" at the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) –– a post which began in April 2009, and later she was briefly Acting Undersecretary for Energy, yet in March 2011, she jumped the DOE ship to work for Soros.

Zoi, an Al Gore acolyte, is reportedly on the shortlist to replace "$8-a-gallon-gas" Energy Secretary Stephen Chu –– a resignation that was publicly announced last Friday, yet rumors have emerged tagging a very disturbing list to replace Chu that would make your head spin. Besides Zoi, other Green Corruption villains floating around are Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, Center for American Progress President John Podesta, Lewis Hay of NextEra Energy, Kathleen McGinty, another protégé of of Al Gore, a director at NRG Energy, and so on.

While Zoi's time at the DOE was tainted with quite a few "conflicts of interest," there are at least a dozen current and former DOE Insiders that are affiliated with winners of green money, and I've exposed about half so far –– a huge piece of the Green Corruption scandal in the works. What’s relevant to our “jobs council” part is the fact that Citigroup is also a major SolarCity investor –– a Big Bank that was the #7 top Obama donor in 2008 and the fact that Obama is close buddies with quite a few former Citigroup executives.

Lachlan Markay notes, “Michael Froman, a close college friend of Obama’s, managed Citi’s alternative investment portfolio until he left for a top White House post in 2009. Froman was key to the President’s 2008 election effort, connecting him with major donors in New York’s financial industry. Froman also served on Obama’s 2008 transition team.” But we have another member of Obama’s expired jobs council to report on, Richard Dean "Dick" Parsons, Former Chairman of the Board of Citigroup, Inc. (from 2009 until he announced stepping down in March 2012).

Moreover, President Obama's choice to replace Timothy Geithner for Treasury Secretary has been quite amusing with Breitbart News recently pointing out the absurdity, “Jack Lew, a man who in 2009 bagged a $950,000 bonus after his bank, Citigroup, received billions in a taxpayer-funded bailout." And it looks like my calculations for Citi was way off, where in my opening of this series I had stated, “the "Too-Big-to-Fail" Citigroup, a TARP recipient received $45 billion in government bailout funds.” But CNBC tells a bigger story, and recently announced them as the number one Big Bank to snag federal aid, “In total, Citigroup received $476.2 billion in cash and guarantees."

While President Obama decries the "fat cats," it’s obvious to any informed citizen, he’s full of “hot air,” not only by rewarding them for failure like Citi and Bank of America as well as his jobs council, the president is using clean energy as a means to payback his bundlers, mega-donors, and supporters. Doubling down on hypocrisy, “Obama, who long cast himself as an ardent opponent of big money in politics,” is when he unleashed his recycled political machine in mid January. " The president and his allies declared it would be powered by grassroots activists and change politics from outside Washington,” yet, “In its first days, Organizing for Action has closely affiliated itself with insider liberal organizations funded by mega-donors like George Soros and corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Citi and Duke Energy,” writes Politico.

In closing Part Four of "Spreading the Wealth to Obama's Ultra-Rich Jobs Council," we can confirm that Ms. Pritzker's –– via her cousin “Nick'" –– Green Tab is close to $1 billion for just two projects –– that we know of, and SolarCity is a confirmed stimulus winner. This is further evidence that this so-called jobs advisory panel has their hands in the green cookie jar, and the only commerce transpiring is for the wealthy that have friends and relatives in high places –– those with political access and influence.

Stay tuned for Part Five, the final installment, where we take a look at Richard Dean "Dick" Parsons, Former Chairman of the Board of Citigroup, Inc. (from 2009 until he announced stepping down in March 2012), who is also part of this multimillionaires club. Citigroup, like Goldman Sachs, was a top Obama donor, has close ties to the president, and holds key positions inside the White House –– has their DNA all over this green-energy scheme. I’ve tracked four large clean energy projects that have snagged huge amounts of stimulus funds, but in the meantime here is a recap of the Jobs Council's clean-energy dirt.
  • Part One: Job Czar Jeffrey Immelt –– 10/31/12 DOE Emails Prove White House Pressure on $1.3 Billion Loan to General Electric Wind Project / Green Tab: at least $3 Billion, the majority from stimulus funds 
  • Part Two: Bank of Obama: John Doerr and Al Gore of Kleiner Perkins, The Mother of All Green Energy Stimulus Money Winners / Green Tab: Tied to $10 Billion, the majority from stimulus funds 
  • Part Three: Lewis Hay CEO of NextEra Energy profiting off of various loans, grants and other energy subsidies –– Big Wind Energy Subsidies: A Hurricane of Carnage, Cronyism and Corruption / Stimulus Green Tab: at least $3 Billion 

One Woman (sometimes two), One Mission, One Green Corruption Piece of the Scandal at a time...

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