Memo: Four Questions Obama Must Answer on Steve Westly’s Political Payoffs
FROM: RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer
TO: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and OFA Traveling Press Secretary Jen Psaki
RE: Four Questions Obama Must Answer on Steve Westly’s Political Payoffs
Energy Investor Steve Westly has raised at least $1 million for Barack Obama during the 2008 and 2012 election cycles. After the 2008 campaign, Westly’s fundraising earned him insider access, a seat on the Energy Secretary’s Advisory Board, a direct line to White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, and even consideration to be Secretary of Energy. Then, green energy companies backed by his firm, The Westly Group, received over $500 million of taxpayer money.
It’s crony capitalism at its worst. While the middle class suffers, President Obama’s donors and friends are “doing fine.”
If the president wants to spend half a billion taxpayer dollars on a donor’s companies, he should be held to account for why those companies were chosen.
So we have some questions for the “most transparent administration ever,” and the American people deserve answers.
1. Did the administration know Steve Westly used his insider access to get business for himself? Did the Energy Department review Steve Westly’s obvious conflicts of interest before appointing him to Secretary Steven Chu’s Advisory Board? If so, will they release the records of that review?
Westly was appointed to serve on Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s Advisory Board as a representative from the venture capital industry. As a member of that board, he chaired the Buildings Subcommittee, which recommended ways to improve energy efficient building materials. At the same time, Westly was investing in firms that specialized in energy efficiency. Those firms later received millions of dollars of taxpayer money.
The Westly Group’s website bragged that they were “uniquely positioned to take advantage” of the billions in subsidies that Obama offered to green energy firms. When the Obama administration handed out taxpayer money, Steve Westly knew he could be first in line because he was already advising the administration.
If he had been a paid administration employee, his connections to The Westly Group and his investments in green building products while advising on such products would have been criminal. U.S. law forbids employees from participating in matters that “would have a direct and predictable effect on the employee’s own financial interests.”
Clearly, Westly stood to benefit in a “direct and predictable way” from his position. The Obama administration was either extraordinarily careless or believed he possessed super-human moral fortitude.
2. Why were Westly’s companies dramatically more successful at receiving government grants and loans? Three Westly-backed firms received funding from two highly competitive stimulus programs. But overall, ninety percent of the companies that applied to secure stimulus funding from those programs were rejected. How did Westly’s companies have such a high success rate? That hardly seems like a coincidence.
3. Will the White House release all communications between Steven Chu and Steve Westly between inauguration day and the distribution of stimulus funds to Westly-backed companies? Will they release a transcript of Advisory Board meetings with Chu and Westly? Steve Westly would have had many opportunities to lobby for his companies to the Energy Secretary himself. Their communications should be released to ensure no such conversations occurred. That is the only way to prove there were no taxpayer-subsidized political kickbacks.
4. While middle class Americans faced layoffs, why did Obama cronies get hundreds of millions of dollars in payoffs? The 23 million Americans struggling for work want to know.
*For full citations on Steve Westly’s questionable relationship with the Obama administration, see this research briefing.