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Here We Go Again: Taxpayers On the Hook for $74 Million After Tech Company Bankrupts

1:45 PM, Oct 27, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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This is starting to become a familiar refrain:

The company Open Range, backed by a commitment of $267 million in loans from the Agriculture Department, filed for bankruptcy this month. Taxpayers are on the hook for $74 million that the upstart hasn’t repaid. And now the company, some analysts and a senior government official are blaming poor judgment and Washington bureaucracy as the reasons Open Range failed.

The two agencies that oversaw the venture defended their roles in Open Range’s demise, saying the circumstances that led to the bankruptcy were out of their control and highly unusual.

The decline of the Greenville, Colo., company comes as Republicans are criticizing the Obama administration for throwing taxpayer money at unproven ventures. The furor was sparked by the high-profile failure of solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy after getting more than $535 million in federal loan guarantees.

So now we find out that the Department of Agriculture was making risky tech industry loans? To their credit, congressional Democrats are already calling for Open Range to be included in the House investigation into Solyndra. Still, after Solyndra, Light Squared, Fisker, and now Open Range -- how many more risky federal loans are out there?

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