By Noel Brinkerhoff
Following on the Solyndra controversy, the Department of Energy under President Barack Obama is now accused of funneling billions of dollars in funding to companies that have connections within the department.
An investigation by The Washington Post found that the Energy Department has approved nearly $4 billion in federal grants and financing to 21 companies supported by firms with connections to five Obama administration staffers and advisers.
Of this amount, $2.46 billion flowed to nine businesses that have ties to VantagePoint Venture Partners, a venture capital firm where Sanjay Wagle, an Energy Department adviser, worked before coming to Washington.
The other four officials identified by the Post include Assistant Secretary David Sandalow, who previously worked for Good Energies, a company that received $737 million from the Energy Department; and Steve Westly, a longtime Silicon Valley entrepreneur and now a member of Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s advisory board. The Westly Group took in $600 million in federal financing.
The Obama administration says that the Energy Department employees and advisers took no part in grant-making decisions, which would mean that these business windfalls were just happy coincidences.
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