By Jonathan Easley - 07/18/12 01:43 PM EDT
Republicans pushed hard Wednesday on their claims the Obama administration gave political payoffs to campaign bundlers and green energy companies at the expense of taxpayers, releasing emails they said showed top donors’ ties to Energy Department officials.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) released a series of emails from 2009 and 2010 in which Silicon Valley investor and top Obama fundraiser Steve Westly cited his ties to Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, campaign manager Jim Messina and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.
Westly, whose green energy company benefited from stimulus funds, raised half a million dollars for Obama’s 2008 campaign. The companies he has invested in have received $500 million in federal contracts and Westly was appointed to the Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board.
The GOP also pointed to comments Westly made in which he acknowledged that Solyndra, the failed solar firm, which received an Energy Department loan guarantee, was a “terrible error,” and said the key to being a better investor in clean technology is “to know the ins and outs of government.”
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus pushed Obama to “come clean” on government contracts with political donors.
"It is time for the 'most transparent administration ever' to come clean on their political payoffs to Obama campaign bundler Steve Westly,” Priebus said in a statement.
“Yesterday, Westly's spokesman claimed they were 'as transparent as possible' while Westly-backed companies received hundreds of millions of dollars in Energy Department loans. But the Obama administration has yet to release the 'conflict of interest' review and other documents and communications related to Westly's service on the Energy Secretary's Advisory Board.
“It reeks of crony capitalism, and the American taxpayers deserve answers,” Priebus concluded.
Obama administration officials, in pushing back against the RNC claims, noted that some of the Westly-backed companies had begun seeking federal financing during the George W. Bush administration.
The Romney campaign and Republicans have sought to turn the page on attacks over Romney’s tenure at private equity firm Bain Capital with their attacks claiming the White House favored political donors.
Romney on Monday said the ties between the administration and contributors “stinks to high heaven.”
The RNC also singled out the off-color remarks of Obama donor and Foundation Capital partner Paul Holland about an administration official.
“I was at The Wall Street Journal’s Economics Conference and Matt Rogers … came in to do his talk and opened his talk with, ‘I’m Matt Rogers I am the special assistant to the secretary of Energy and I have $134 billion that I have to disburse between now and the end of December,’ ” Holland said. “So upon hearing that I sent an email to my partners that said Matt Rogers is about to get treated like a hooker dropped into a prison exercise yard. And I had the lack of judgment to go up and share that with him and the other people who were all standing around him at the end of the talk and unfortunately for me they all laughed and thought it was funny.”
Romney also joined the RNC’s attacks Wednesday with a new video claiming Obama directed stimulus funds to green energy companies linked to campaign contributors.
“Solyndra. Five hundred million taxpayer dollars. Bankrupt,” the ad says.
“Windmills from China. Electric cars from Finland,” it adds, listing questionable stimulus expenditures.
The Obama campaign has countered that Romney is seeking to divert attention from his own business record and lack of transparency on personal finances. Democrats have pressed Romney to release additional tax returns after a report last week detailed offshore accounts held by the GOP candidate.