More Obama cronyism that taxpayers are paying for. The pattern: Give Obama $$$ and he gives you taxpayer $$$.
Those curious to know how Washington functions in the era of Barack Obama would benefit from reading a Dec. 17 item by Al Kamen in the Washington Post. Its 333 words pretty much sum things up. The number of possible nominees to replace outgoing Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Kamen writes, is decreasing. And “one name seems to be popping up increasingly.” That would be the name of (pop!) Tom Steyer, the San Francisco hedge fund billionaire and political activist whose financial prospects have an uncanny symmetry with the alternative energy policies of the present administration.
[…] Steyer may have started the 2008 presidential cycle as a supporter of Hillary Clinton but like so many wealthy white Democrats he soon switched his allegiance to the freshman Senator from Illinois. He has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Obama’s campaigns and rounded up millions more. And he has been rewarded for his efforts: He’s enjoyed White House access,a speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention—imagine the berserk response if David Koch had addressed the RNC—and now has within his grasp a seat in the presidential cabinet from which he would direct taxpayer dollars to companies in which he holds or has held positions. “President Obama knows that advanced energy is America’s future,” Steyer told DNC delegates in Charlotte. “And my bet, as a businessman, is that he’s exactly right.”
The bet has paid off. The media may have neglected Steyer’s DNC speech but it was nonetheless revealing. The rhetorical trick of referring to solar and wind as “advanced” energies, when Australopithecus benefited from the sun and the first windmill seems to have been built in Roman Alexandria, is a fine irony. “Businessman” meanwhile may have been a fair description of Steyer’s occupation for most of his life but it now seems too confining. “Insider” would be better; “crony” better yet. In 2009 Steyer helped found Greener Capital, a VC firm that profits from investments in companies benefiting from the pronounced shift in energy policy under Obama and Chu. Also in 2009 Steyer’s name began to appear on the tax filings of the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP), the think tank that formulated many of Obama’s advanced energy policies. Steyer’s charitable group, TomKat, has donated more than a million dollars to CAP, and he is listed as a director on its most recent form 990. This is the same think tank remember whose founder served as the head of Obama’s transition team and that provided a desk to Steven Spinner, the Obama donor and Department of Energy official who pushed for subsidies to the solar panel manufacturer Solyndra (whom his wife’s law firm represented). This is the same think tank that coordinated policy and message with loan program officials according to emails obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
The association of Steyer and CAP has benefits. In January of this year Steyer coauthored a Wall Street Journal op-ed with John Podesta, “We Don’t Need More Foreign Oil and Gas,” that supported Obama’s decision not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada and argued for extending “clean-energy programs like the Production Tax Credit” and reviving “the Manufacturing Tax Credit, which helps factories retool for the clean-tech sector.” The authors failed to disclose that Steyer helps pay Podesta’s salary and that his investments would net millions if the federal government shaped public policy to his liking—millions of dollars that then would be funneled back into institutions like CAP and Democratic campaigns like Obama’s.