The White House’s multi-million dollar investment in the now bankrupt solar power company Solyndra landed Barack Obama on a watchdog group’s top 10 corrupt politician list.
Conservative non-partisan group Judicial Watch included the president in its “Top 10 Most Corrupt Politicians in Washington D.C.” list, released Thursday, for his involvement with the failed green energy company.
“When it comes to Obama corruption, it may not get any bigger than Solyndra,” the group said. “Solyndra was once known as the poster child for the Obama administration’s massive ‘green energy’ initiative, but it has become the poster child for the corruption that ensues when the government meddles in the private sector.”
Obama issued solar energy corporation Solyndra a grant for over $525 million as part of its 2009 stimulus. Solyndra was the first renewable energy company to receive a federal loan in the stimulus plan. However, the California-based company laid off 1,100 workers and declared bankruptcy in September 2011.
Emails released by a U.S. House committee show that the White House may have had loan discussions with Solyndra’s billionaire owner and Obama campaign donor George Kaiser prior to the bankruptcy announcement. According to The Huffington Post, the company’s name was mentioned in a White House meeting with Kaiser in 2010. In 2010, Kaiser also sought a second federal loan.
White House officials defended the Solyndra loan, implying there was nothing wrong with the talks since the president never discussed the first loan with Kaiser. A second loan for Solyndra was denied.
"Even the documents cherry-picked by House Republicans today affirm what we have said all along: This loan was a decision made on the merits at the Department of Energy," White House spokesman Eric Schultz told The Huffington Post.
But other documents also show that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and then-National Economic Council Director Larry Summers warned Obama that the selection process for the green energy loans was not rigorous and there was a risk of money being donated to the wrong companies, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Judicial Watch criticized Obama for continuing to “defend the indefensible” and allowing for the “scandalous waste of precious tax dollars.”
The watchdog group also took aim at the president’s administration, adding Attorney General Eric Holder to the top corrupt politicians list.
“Attorney General Eric Holder now operates the most politicized and ideological Department of Justice (DOJ) in recent history. And revelations from the Operation Fast and Furious scandal suggest that programs approved by the Holder DOJ may have resulted in the needless deaths of many, including a federal law enforcement officer,” the group wrote.
The failed Fast and Furious weapons trafficking investigation allowed nearly 2,500 guns cross the U.S.-Mexico border and into the hands of international smugglers. One of those guns was later found next to a border patrol agent, who was shot dead.
Holder initially denied knowledge of the operation. However, emails revealed that he was in fact privy to the operation’s details.
Holder gave his condolences to the deceased’s family and admitted that the effects of the lapsed Fast and Furious operation will be felt “for years to come.” He, however, has resisted calls for him to resign.
Judicial Watch has listed Obama in its annual corruption list for five consecutive years. He also received a “dishonorable mention” in 2006 as a U.S. senator.
The group also has been involved in two lawsuits against the administration for Solyndra records and Secret Service White House visitor logs.
However, the list was a bipartisan one targeting seven Democrats and three Republicans, including Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who was approached about insider trading during a CBS’ “60 Minutes” investigative report.
GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich also received a dishonorable mention because the former House speaker “has a career plagued by scandal and corruption.” Those scandals include House ethical violations and his questionable relationship with Federal mortgage companies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.