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Wednesday, September 21, 2011 

Issa’s requested DoE loan would have benefited major GOP donor

 

We found out today that Darrell Issa used to be a big fan of the Department of Energy's clean energy loan program, promoting several California companies for consideration by the DoE's program. One of the companies, Aptera Motors, has spent the last few years bouncing around Northern San Diego, seeking different funding models before announcing several months ago that it wouldn't be expanding in the region, instead looking to the Midwest and South for possible expansion options.
 
One of the main early sources of capital for Aptera was the Beall Family Trust, administered by Don Beall. Don Beall, as it happens is a major California Republican moneyman, providing hundreds of thousands of dollars to state and national Republican candidates, committees, PACs and ballot measure campaigns.
 
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, that funding includes checks to Darrell Issa and the New Majority Committee, which has steadily funded Issa's campaigns for years, toting up a $16,000 total. In fact, Issa received his only direct check from Beall in November, 2009 -- less than two months before Issa wrote to the Department of Energy recommending Aptera for the loan program.
 
The Center for Responsive Politics also shows that Beall's portfolio also includes the National Republican Congressional Committee, Republican National Committee, and the California Republican Party, not to mention dozens of congressional, senatorial, and presidential candidates.
 
But the big money from Beall has mostly gone to state-level candidates and causes. According to FollowTheMoney.org, a check from Beall has become almost automatic for statewide Republican camapaigns and conservative causes in California, often in chunks of $15,000, $20,000, $25,000 a pop. A good friend to have for any California Republican looking to improve their profile, their influence, or their office.
 
Incidentally, the Chairman of the Board at Quallion, for whom Issa also signed a letter of support to the Department of Energy's loan program, is also a major source of campaign money in California. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that Alfred Mann has been good for hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions over the years, spread out over both Democrats and Republicans.
 
So, when Issa has an opportunity to score some partisan points at the expense of Barack Obama, he'll ignore that the Solyndra loans originated with the Bush Administration and the conservative Walton family. But when the same program can spend tax dollars to help out a major California Republican money-man with an investment, the same DoE loan program looked like a much better opportunity to Issa.
 
This could be written off as a coincidence if it didn't fit so neatly in with Issa's long pattern of behavior. Questions over whether Issa has used his office to benefit his private investments have led to an official ethics complaint. He's repeatedly put on stacked hearings with witness lists made up of personal friends and representatives from major campaign contributors. Only after requesting millions in earmarks for leading campaign donors and securing nearly a million dollars in earmarks for improvements around his investment properties did he declare earmarks to be "tantamount to a bribe." And reports are that Issa has taken advantage of the struggling economy to snap up $80 million in real estate while his constituents are forced to sell low. And he still isn't sure if he's ignoring the billion-dollar NewsCorp scandal because he knows Rupert Murdoch personally, or for some other reason.
 
Issa recommended this particular program despite his strong rhetoric about earmarks being "tantamount to a bribe" and the Department of Energy's loan program "as a backdoor, easy way to end up with corruption in government." We know that there's a long pattern of Issa co-mingling public and private business. And we know the DoE loan would have been a big boost to an investment of a major Republican money-man. And Issa's track record thus far doesn't recommend the benefit of the doubt.

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