Excerpted from The Liberal War on Transparency by Chris Horner
So, Al Gore came to do good and ended up doing really, really well, according to the Washington Post. That’s actually not unique for Washington, except possibly as a matter of scale: Gore went from being worth $2 million when leaving office to about $100 million now.
Gore, of course, “invested” in or otherwise found profitable arrangements with many companies whose financing mostly comes courtesy of the taxpayer, either directly, or indirectly in that private money flocks to that which politicians wed themselves to — the “halo effect” — on the knowledge that once the spigot opens it is difficult to turn off for fear of having a taxpayer-funded flop on their hands.
I couldn’t help but be reminded, by this story, of the personnel executing these programs for President Obama, he of the $90 billion in “green energy” money squandered on boondoggles whose own owners’ sales pitch for the dough was unless you give me this money, I won’t exist.
For example, in one of those funny coincidences of life, did you know that Obama appointed the CEO of Al Gore’s own pro-green energy advocacy group, Alliance for Climate Protection, to be his Assistant Secretary of Energy for Renewable Energy? I detail this in a chapter of my new book, The Liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information “Criminal” (greens hailed this move as akin to his coup of plucking Van Jones!)
After it became clear that she was not about to be confirmed for a higher position to which Obama moved her, Ms. Zoi moved out to start a Gore-like fund with some guy named Soros. But while Zoi was in government, I obtained some of her emails under the Freedom of Information Act. I also obtained a whole lot more discussing her orders and actions. More on that in the book, but here’s the big-picture.
Proving that transparency in government can be as entertaining as it is illuminating, I got hold of an email from Ms. Zoi’s close pal, the Managing Director of Solyndra’s outside political consulting firm. Just a note to let her know he was “at [the] poolside bar at Caesars having a drink” with her “Senior Advisor” (a twenty-something poli-sci grad). Right about then, back in Washington, President Obama’s political team was leaning on colleagues in government to get a campaign bundler’s company — Solyndra — a historically wasteful loan guarantee, soon to be predictably squandered.
Cheers! Other emails showed assistant secretary Zoi bantering as close confidantes do with yet a different partner in Solyndra’s political firm, for example arranging dinner at her house that weekend which promised to be a blast as “a couple of other fun political animals will be there”. Other Zoi emails showed her enlisting the same firm, apparently pro bono (although that would seem to be a legal no-no under The Anti-Deficiency Act, 31 USC § 1342), to help pull together materials she wanted to consider when developing DOE’s campaign, pushing the same agenda but from the inside.
But, no, that whole Solyndra and “green stimulus” boondoggle and the cronies that made out at the taxpayer’s expense, that came about due to the merits.
With the current administration, risibly self-congratulating as the most transparent in history, we now know to ask sooner than we did with Solyndra, even if by the time that scandal broke I had already used information requests to expose the basic but thorough corruption of Obama’s “green energy” operation. For example, another of my FOIA requests to Zoi’s fiefdom in the Department of Energy led to a treasure trove of emails exposing what Investor’s Business Daily called “The Big Wind Cover-Up.” This also uncovered the collaborative effort to smear the Spanish “green jobs” economics professor and his team’s work documenting the true disaster of liberal plans to reorganize America’s economy as “the clean energy economy.”
FOIA allowed me to chase down the genesis of this panic-driven attempt at discrediting people viewed as political opponents, this instance confirmed aggressive violations of Barack Obama’s promises of transparency and to banish lobbyists from insider roles in the policy process.
But documents pried out of the administration also let slip revealing details of how this defense of a “renewables” industry that Solyndra later made famous but all along made Gore and other well-connected types wealthy was coordinated with industry lobbyists and left-wing pressure groups. These included Soros’s project, the Center for American Progress, using the industrial wind lobby as the go-between in anticipation of DOE claiming, for example, to Congress that it “had no direct contact with” CAP or another pressure group to which the windmill lobbyists served as DOE’s “cutout” contact.
IBD described these records as being as substantively explosive as the previously described “Climategate” leak in 2009 of emails and computer code, because it showed senior Obama political appointees doing the bidding for industries that were propped up in the name of an anti-energy ideology and crony capitalism joined with the assault on abundant domestic energy sources that work and therefore also disfavored for ideological reasons.
With truths like these trickling out while we still have access to public records, it’s no surprise that Al Gore did so well “investing.” How he does if taxpayers decide that enough is enough remains to be seen.
Christopher C. Horner is a Washington, D.C. attorney and author of the new book The Liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information “Criminal” (Threshold Editions, published October 2, 2012)