Some businesses pursue profit mostly by trying to make something or offer a service consumers or other businesses will want to buy at a price they will be willing to pay. Other businesses — like most green-tech companies — make a profit by chasing subsidies and mandates.
Ecotality manufacturers electric-car recharging stations. They are, at heart, a political company. Lachlan Markay at the Heritage Foundation has an eye-opening story of the company’s politics:
On a July 2007 shareholder conference call, Ecotality CEO Jonathan Read put it bluntly: “I’m a political beast,” he told a shareholder, “and playing the political card is something that when the time is right we’re going to play very hard.”…
In August of 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama announced his goal to get 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. Around that time, Ecotality’s lobbying efforts, previously confined to Congress and DOE, were expanded to the White House, and to include work on “DOE projects,” a slight but significant shift in the topic under discussion.
As Ecotality put it in a December 2008 SEC filing, “we believe the focus by the Obama Administration [on electric vehicles] will provide strong funding opportunities for us and our core technologies.”
In its push to secure that funding, Ecotality hired Ziemba-Waid Public Affairs, which touted Ecotality’s eventual $99.8 million award through DOE’s EV Project on its blog. The firm boasts a “deep knowledge of the Western and Washington, D.C. political landscape,” according to the website.
But ZWPA doesn’t just have knowledge of D.C.’s workings – it has extensive ties to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, even flouting those ties on its website under the headline “Friends in high places,” and to former Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-AZ), whose committee assignments were of particular note for Ecotality….
During his first campaign for the U.S. House, Mitchell held a joint fundraiser with his then-state Senate colleague Slade Mead, who was running for superintendent at the time. Mitchell prevailed in his election; Mead did not. The following year, Mead was elected to Ecotality’s board of directors.
The Mitchell-Mead fundraiser, it should be noted, was held at the home of then-governor, and current Homeland Security secretary, Janet Napolitano.
After Napolitano was tapped for DHS secretary in January 2009, her long-time spokeswoman Jeanine L’Ecuyertook at position at ZWPA. By December of that year, however, L’Ecuyer was listed as the spokeswoman for none other than Ecotality.