(SAN FRANCISCO) — At an exclusive re-election fundraiser Monday night, President Obama hobnobbed with 60 of his wealthiest supporters, including two figures at the center of the Solyndra loan scandal.
Steve Westly, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, was one of the first to raise red flags about the administration’s support for a $500 million loan to Solyndra, the solar energy start-up that later went bankrupt. He wrote directly to senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett in 2010 to raise concerns about the company’s viability ahead of the president’s high-profile visit that year.
Matt Rogers, a former senior adviser at the Department of Energy, played a key role in approving Solyndra’s loan as part of the stimulus plan.
Both men were spotted by White House print pool reporter Darren Samuelsohn of Politico at the Piedmont, Calif., home of Quinn Delaney and Wayne Jordan, who were hosting the $35,800-a-head event.
Samuelsohn noted that Westly was seen near the pool, “juggling lemons, entertaining kids at the party.”
Republicans have seized on Obama’s ties to Westly and Rogers — as well as top Obama campaign bundler George Kaiser, who made multiple visits to the White House in an attempt to get the Solyndra loan pushed through — as part of their case that the president engages in “crony capitalism.”
“The Obama Administration betrayed American taxpayers when it dumped hundreds of millions of public dollars into Solyndra while ignoring clear warnings about the company’s dire financial situation,” Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement.
“President Obama’s first term worked out well for his donors who got special access and taxpayer money for their failed ventures,” Williams said. “It hasn’t worked as well for the 23 million Americans struggling for work in the worst economic recovery our country has ever had.”
Solyndra first applied for a Department of Energy grant under the George W. Bush administration, but it was shelved two weeks before Obama took office because the company’s fundamentals were in question. The Obama administration fast-tracked the massive loan in 2010, then touted the now-bankrupt company up as an example of a success story from the taxpayer-funder stimulus.
The Solyndra loan was so central to this strategy that the administration initially planned to have Obama personally announce it, and later sent the president to the company’s solar panel manufacturing facility in Fremont, California to celebrate its work, according to a previous ABC News report.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ruth Brown, Idaho Press-Tribune
Jeremy Diamond, CNN
Robert Pattern, EastIdahoNews.com
Max Blau, Euan McKirdy and Azadeh Ansari, CNN