Obama, Energy Policy, & Favored Firms

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President Barack Obama is going to speak today about energy policy. I’m not sure if this is going to come up:

When the White House announced the federal government would loan $465 million to Tesla, a California start-up company with plans to develop an all-electric sedan, President Obama called it an “historic opportunity to ensure that the next generation of fuel-efficient cars and trucks are made in America.”

The loan also represented a lucrative opportunity for Steve Westly, a major investor in the car company who had raised more than $500,000 for the president’s campaign.

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy lent more than half a billion dollars to companies backed by Westly’s California venture capital firm. In 2010, the White House tapped Westly for a seat on a special energy advisory panel that gives him regular access to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Westly boasts on his website that his firm is “uniquely positioned” to take advantage of the Obama administration’s interest in green energy.

Congress has given the Energy Department authority to distribute billions of dollars in public funds to help stimulate the economy and seed a new generation of clean energy firms. A joint investigation by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity that will air on World News with Diane Sawyer tonight has found that Westly is just one of several political allies of the president who have ties to companies receiving chunks of that money through loans, grants, or loan guarantees.

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