POLITICS

Solyndra director tied to $737m loan guarantee

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

Steve Mitchell and Argonaut Private Equity might have a chance to recoup some of their losses in the Solyndra debacle now that the Department of Energy has given a $737 million dollar loan guarantee to a company backed by Argonaut that also lists Mitchell as a "board participant."

Mitchell served on the Solyndra LLC Board of Directors and reportedly still serves on the board. Mitchell serves as a "board participant" for Solar Reserve, the parent company to Tonopah Solar (the Tonopah Solar email address even routes to a Solar Reserve account) and his Solar Reserve biography says that he "currently sits on the Boards of Directors of . . . Solyndra" and several other companies. Despite the Solyndra failure, the Department of Energy continues to provide loan guarantees to solar companies, giving Tonopah Solar a $737 million loan guarantee for a project in Nevada.

Mitchell owes his position at Solyndra and Solar Reserve, apparently, to the fact that his primary employer, Argonaut Private Equity, invested in both companies. Mitchell holds the title of Managing Director for Argonaut Private Equity. After Solyndra declared bankruptcy, two Democratic members of the U.S. House asked that a House Subcommittee call Mitchell to testify about Solyndra. Though he has not appeared before Congress, he has "been asked to provide documents to Congress" pertaining to Solyndra.

The Mitchell connection to Solar Reserve brings George Kaiser into the spotlight with respect to this latest loan guarantee. Kaiser owns Argonaut and thus invested in both Solyndra and Solar Reserve (more heavily in the former than the latter). He also bundled over $50,000 into President Obama's campaign.

Their poor track record notwithstanding, Kaiser and Mitchell now have another opportunity to profit from investing in a solar company funded by the Department of Energy.

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