To date, public attention in the aftermath of the Solyndra, Inc. loan scandal has been focused on the relationship between the solar power company and the Obama administration. Behind the scenes, however, Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment bank that served as financial advisor to Solyndra, Inc. in its successful application for a $535 million loan guarantee by the U.S. Department of Energy, has been kept out of the daily news cycle surrounding Solyndra’s implosion.
Goldman Sachs was one of the banks in 2008 and 2009 that received billions of dollars in U.S. Government funds to help it to stay afloat. Goldman Sachs is a major player in almost every industry affected by federal legislation. According to opensecrets.org, Goldman Sachs gives the majority of its political contributions to Democrats. Public records for 2011-2012 reveal that Goldman Sachs has given President Obama $44,750 during this time period.
The following is a press release issued by Solyndra, Inc. on March 20, 2009 in which it announced the loan which has stirred up so much controversy. The last paragraph mentions Goldman Sach’s involvement in the deal.
Fremont, CA, March 20, 2009 – Solyndra, Inc. announced today that it is the first company to receive an offer for a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee under Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Solyndra, a Fremont, California-based manufacturer of innovative cylindrical photovoltaic systems, will use the proceeds of a $535 million loan from the U.S. Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank to expand its solar panel manufacturing capacity in California.
“The leadership and actions of President Barack Obama, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and the U.S. Congress were instrumental in concluding this offer for a loan guarantee,” said Solyndra CEO and founder, Dr. Chris Gronet. “The DOE Loan Guarantee Program funding will enable Solyndra to achieve the economies of scale needed to deliver solar electricity at prices that are competitive with utility rates. This expansion is really about creating new jobs while meaningfully impacting global warming.”
Designed specifically for commercial, industrial and institutional rooftops, Solyndra’s proprietary photovoltaic (PV) systems generate significantly more solar electricity per rooftop at a lower installed cost than conventional flat panel PV technologies. Further, Solyndra’s PV systems are fast and economical to install due to the simple horizontal mounting and unique air-flow properties of the solar panels. Solyndra’s panels are fully certified for U.S. and international use and have been commercially shipping since July 2008.
The guaranteed loan, expected to provide debt financing for approximately 73% of the project costs, will allow Solyndra to initiate construction of a second solar panel fabrication facility (Fab 2) in California. On completion, Fab 2 is expected to have an annual manufacturing capacity of 500 megawatts per year. Solyndra and DOE will finalize the transaction upon completion of definitive documentation and satisfaction of certain conditions precedent. Over the life of the project, Solyndra estimates that Fab 2 will produce solar panels sufficient to generate up to 15 gigawatts of clean, renewable electricity–enough to avoid 300 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Further, Solyndra estimates that the construction of this complex will employ approximately 3,000 people, the operation of the facility will create over 1,000 jobs, and hundreds of additional jobs will be created for the installation of Solyndra PV systems, in the U.S.
“DOE, in consultation with independent consultants, performed a thorough investigation and analysis of our project’s financial, technical and legal strengths,” said Dr. Kelly Truman, Solyndra’s Vice President of Marketing, Sales and Business Development. “We are proud to be the first company to pass this comprehensive review, and we would like to acknowledge the exceptional efforts of the staff of the DOE Loan Guarantee Program Office.”
Goldman, Sachs & Co. acted as exclusive financial advisor to Solyndra in connection with this loan guarantee application.
There is a veritable plethora of connections between Goldman Sachs and the Obama Administration. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is a former protégé of Robert Rubin, who served as Treasury Secretary in the Clinton Administration. Rubin is also a former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs. Gene Sperling, one of Geithner’s top advisers, reportedly received $887,727 from Goldman Sachs in 2008, according to s story in Harper’s Magazine which was published on October 15, 2009.
But the connections between Goldman Sachs and the Obama Administration go well beyond personal relationships. Money is also to be found in this relationship between the Executive Branch of the United States Government under Barack Obama and Goldman Sachs. Peter Roff, writing in U.S. News and World Report on April 20, 2010 in a story titled “Goldman Sachs May Be Obama’s Enron” said:
As the Democrats attempt to push a new financial regulation bill through Congress the emerging Goldman Sachs scandal threatens to engulf the Obama administration.
As most everyone now knows, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has brought suit against the giant Wall Street firm, charging it deliberately misled investors who participated in a mortgage securities trade that was designed to fail. The firm, which posted a profit of more than $3 billion for the first quarter of 2010, denies the allegation, has come to symbolize in the minds of many the kind of bloated, malefactor of great wealth the Democrats used to suggest pulled the strings in the Republican Party.
The problem now is that the shoe is on the other foot.
As J.P. Freire writes in Tuesday’s Washington Examiner, Goldman Sachs employees gave Obama “nearly seven times as much as President Bush received from Enron workers.” He adds:
… the mere $151,722.42 (inflation adjusted) in contributions from Enron-affiliated executives, employees, and PACs to Bush hardly add up to Obama’s $1,007,370.85 (inflation adjusted) from Goldman-affiliated executives and employees. That’s also not taking into account how much Goldman contributed to Obama cabinet member Hillary Clinton ($415,595.63 inflation adjusted), which was itself almost three times as much as Bush received as well.
There’s more in the money trail between Obama, other top Democratic politicians, and Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs and its executives are major contributors to Democratic politicians at both the state and national levels. For example, Goldman Sachs former CEO Jon Corzine contributed $916,800 to Democratic politicians and the Democratic Party in recent years.
Goldman Sachs is also one of the heavy hitters in the lobbying industry. Reported expenditures by Goldman Sachs for 2011 have already reached $2.4 million. This figure was released by the Senate Office of Public Records and the data is accurate as of its release date of September 18, 2011. This is a paltry sum compared to the lobbying dollars Goldman Sachs reported for 2010. That figure reached $4,610,000. Goldman Sachs spent another $2,830,000 lobbying the Obama Administration and Congress during 2009. Goldman Sachs reported having hired 44 lobbyists so far in 2011. They also report 14 revolving door personnel. These are personnel who spend time in the private sector at Goldman Sachs and then move to the public sector and vice versa.
As the investigation into Solyndra’s loan proceeds, the involvement of Goldman Sachs in seeking a loan on behalf of a client who has now been revealed to have submitted such a poor application that the Bush Administration rejected it and even Obama Administration officials warned against granting the loan, is likely to be investigated. Questions remain for Goldman Sachs to answer, including what led Goldman Sachs to submit an application for a loan to the Department of Energy when, as the public now knows, the application package had major problems associated with it. It is assumed that Goldman Sachs also had access to the results of Solyndra, Inc.’s annual audit reports. The questions for Goldman Sachs will be what in those audit reports convinced Goldman Sachs that the loan was viable, was convinced Goldman Sachs that the loan could be repaid, and was undue access to the White House on behalf of Solyndra, Inc. granted in exchange for political donations? The FBI investigation has just commenced but the questions already are piling up and the Obama Administration, Solyndra, Inc. and Goldman Sachs will all be queried by investigators, the press, and the public demanding answers to these and other questions that will surely arise.