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The Center for American Cronyism—and Saudi Progress?

1:08 PM, Sep 19, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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The Los Angeles Times opened up a new front in the Solyndra scandal on Friday (and there are too many fronts to count at this point), reporting that Steve Spinner, another prominent Obama donor, served as a top official in the Energy Department program that made the half-billion dollar loan to the now bankrupt solar panel maker. In Spinner's defense, he did recuse himself from the decision to grant the loan—because his wife works at a law firm that represented Solyndra.

Center for American Progress

Still, as the Times notes, these conflicts of interest did not prevent Spinner from spinning for Solyndra—without any disclosure of his own ties to the company or the loan program—once he left the administration for a post at the Center for American Progress, which of course does not disclose its own donors and may well include the Obama bundler who benefitted most from this scandal, George Kaiser. Kaiser's strategy for securing the sweetheart deal (which allows him to get his money back before taxpayers even see a dime of the swindled funds) even included support for one of Michelle Obama's favorite charities

Spinner also used his platform at the Center for American Progress to promote other, well-connected companies that were lining up for money from the Department of Energy. Among them, First Solar, Inc., which has already spent more than half a million on lobbying so far this year, and whose officers have made hundreds of thousands in political contributions to Democrats. Oh, and one of First Solar's board members, Akin Gump mega-lobbyist Jose Villareal, also serves on the board of Center for American Progress. You think maybe Spinner should have disclosed this connection before pimping for First Solar on the CAP website? Additionally, Villareal also served on the board of Walmart, one of the few publically known donors to CAP.

Do you really think First Solar—with all those political contributions and lobbying money spent—isn't kicking CAP a few hundred grand for a little favorable press? I'm starting to get the sense that CAP exists to do little else than promote a green agenda on behalf of the undisclosed corporate donors who so generously fund their work with taxpayer money they received from officials at the Department of Energy before they left the administration for jobs at CAP. 

Which leads to one final bit of news. CAP has been at the forefront of the environmentalist campaign against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would take oil from Canada's tar sands all the way to Texas and Oklahoma at the rate of some 700,000 barrels of terror-free crude a day. So at the same time as they argue for imaginary green technologies that could wean us off of Middle Eastern oil, they are arguing against a pipeline that could actually do just that. Which has led one group, called Ethical Oil, to run an ad campaign (see the ad below) making the case that real beneficiary of the eco-attacks against the pipeline is the oppressive Saudi monarchy. The Center for American Progress has been attacking Ethical Oil and promoting a petition that would have the ads taken off the air. The Saudi government has also sent a cease and desist letter to the Canadian government demanding that the ad be taken down. 

Would you be surprised to learn that the Saudis are major donors to the Center for American Progress?

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