11-10-2011, 08:23 AM
Are We Bailing Out Spain’s Solar Collapse?
| Another DOE Loan Scandal: Are We Bailing Out Spain’s Solar Collapse? |
Following the collapse of Spain's solar sector, a Spanish company with ties to Democrats received $2.7 billion in US Energy Department loans.
Yet again, evidence of impropriety surrounds the issuance of federal Department of Energy “green” loan guarantees — in this instance, loans were granted to a foreign company with Democratic Party ties.
Over the last two years, DOE Secretary Steven Chu has awarded Spain-based Abengoa — a sprawling, multi-national industrial firm operating in 70 countries — loan guarantees worth a staggering $2.78 billion for solar and ethanol plants.
Abengoa is a Madrid-based conglomerate that operates throughout Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia. It is not starved for cash: according to its 2009 annual report, the firm was valued at $25.5 billion, enjoying a cash flow of $4 billion and a net profit of $288 million. It is traded on the Madrid and Barcelona stock exchanges and employs more than 25,000 workers.
At first glance, Abengoa does not appear to require U.S. government-backed loan guarantees. In 2010 it qualified for private bank loans in 11 countries worth 161 million euros. In July 2009 alone, Abengoa issued convertible bonds in Europe worth 688 million euros.
Overall, the Energy Department has awarded Abengoa three separate loan guarantees.
For years, Abengoa has been extolled by former Vice President Al Gore, including during a high-profile speech he delivered at the company’s Spanish headquarters in October 2010. Gore himself invested in the company in November 2007. The day he announced his investment, the company’s stock jumped 7 percent. |
The Spanish firm has connections to Democratic operatives. According to federal lobbying records, Democrat Mark Rokala — a top Washington lobbyist who worked at the now-discredited Democratic lobbyist firm PMA — headed up Abengoa’s effort.
In 2008, PMA was embroiled in a government ethics “pay-to-play” scandal in which the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha directed $137 million in government contracts to PMA clients. PMA and its clients in turn donated $2.37 million to Murtha and other Democratic congressmen who sat on a defense appropriations subcommittee.
In 2007, the non-profit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named Murtha one of the “most corrupt” members of Congress. Rokala’s boss and PMA president Paul Magliocchetti is now serving a 27-month federal sentence for illegal campaign contributions. PMA has shuttered its doors, but since 2006, Rokala has led the lobbying effort on behalf of Abengoa at another D.C. lobbying firm, Cornerstone. Since 2006, Cornerstone has received $870,000 in lobbying fees from Abengoa.
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