Abound Solar, a green energy company whose financial backers include the Department of Energy (DOE) and a billionaire campaign donor for President Obama, is laying off 280 employees in Colorado and delaying the construction of an Indiana factory.
"The company has laid off 280 employees and delayed plans to open a new factory in Indiana that was also part of the government-backed deal," the Dow Jones Newswire reported through the Wall Street Journal. "The announcement was the latest sign of trouble for a manufacturing company backed by the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program, which has already lost more than $500 million on loans to failed California solar panel maker Solyndra LLC." Abound Solar is retooling the Colorado factory to cut production costs.
Abound Solar received a $400 million loan guarantee through the DOE for a project expected to create 400 temporary and 1200 permanent jobs. The Export-Import Bank of the United States loaned Abound Solar another $9.2 milion in October 2011 to "support exports" of the solar panels constructed at the Colorado factory.
Pat Stryker, founder of Bohemian Companies (an Abound Solar investor, as the Sunlight Foundation first observed), donated $50,000 to support President Obama's 2009 inauguration and bundled another $87,500 for the event, Stryker also gave $35,500 to the Obama Victory Fund 2012, according to FEC reports, and another $5000 to the Democratic White House Victory Fund in 2008.
In addition to supporting Democratic candidates, Stryker also provides significant financial backing to third-party groups that support Democratic candidates.
For instance, FEC reports show Stryker donated $145,000 in 2010 to America's Families First Action Fund (AFFAF) and $75,000 to "Women Vote" operation organized by the pro-choice group, Emily's List. the Washington Post reported in October 2010 that AFFAF had spent almost $6 million during that cycle on behalf of Democratic candidates only. "Women Vote" is a similarly partisan effort by Emily's List to "turn out women voters for our pro-choice Democratic women candidates and every Democrat on the ticket."
The Sunlight Foundation noted in November that the name "Pat Stryker" appeared in the White House West Wing visitor logs in 2009 -- one year after Bohemian Companies invested in Abound Solar, but a year before the DOE gave a loan guarantee to the company -- but White House officials "did not confirm that the visitor was the Pat Stryker in question and did not provide details about the meeting." The Sunlight Foundation also said that "there is no evidence that the Obama administration favored" Abound Solar because of Stryker's monetary support for Obama.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney highlighted the role of Congress in the loan program when asked about the Abound Solar layoffs yesterday. "I would refer you to the Department of Energy for specifics about any particular loan," Carney told ABC's Jake Tapper during the press briefing. "I would say broadly that it is inherent within these kinds of investments that there is risk, and Congress recognized that risk, which is why they put aside $10 billion in loan lost reserves when they created the program."