Most Blaze readers are familiar with these details: since coming into power, the Obama administration has awarded several “clean energy” companies with generous federal loan guarantees. However, after receiving said massive taxpayer-funded loans, many of these "clean" companies have either scaled back, filed for bankruptcy, or laid off half their workforce.
Think that's bad? How about the fact that, despite their failure to produce results, several executives at some of these "green energy" companies were making six-figure bonuses before they eventually filed for bankruptcy?
“President Obama's Department of Energy helped finance several green energy companies that later fell into bankruptcy -- but not before the firms doled out six-figure bonuses and payouts to top executives,” a Center for Public Integrity and ABC News investigation found.
And here are some specific examples:
1. In March 2010, Beacon Power Corp. paid cash bonuses of $259,285 to three executives in part “due to progress made on the $43 million energy loan,” Securities and Exchange Commission records show.
Beacon Power filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last Fall
2. EnerDel, the Vice President Joe Biden-touted maker of lithium-ion batteries was awarded a $118.5 million energy grant in August 2009. EnerDel corporate parent Ener1 paid $725,000 in bonuses to three executives -- including $450,000 to then-CEO Charles Gassenheimer, according to ABC News.
Ener1 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month.
3. Solyndra executives were awarded bonuses worth up to $60,000 apiece in 2011 even though the company was headed straight into bankruptcy, according to Fox News.
Solyndra, as we all know, filed for bankruptcy in September 2011.
So how did the Department of Energy respond when news of these bonuses broke? The DOE said it was “troubled by the practice and intends to convey that message to loan recipients.”
"We don't begrudge companies or their executives for their success, but it is irresponsible for executives to be awarded bonus compensation when their workers are losing their jobs," said department spokeswoman Jen Stutsman.
"We take our role as stewards of taxpayer dollars very seriously, and as such, we will make clear to loan recipients our view that funds should not be directed toward executive bonuses when the rest of the company is facing financial difficulty," she added.
She’s right! There’s nothing wrong with bonuses or compensation!
Granted, there is nothing wrong with a company compensating its top talent and no one has the right to tell a private company what their employees “deserve.”
But this "green energy" situation is different. How so?
"People have been complaining about hefty executive compensation for a long time. The private sector has been roundly criticized for its 'golden parachutes,'" writes John Hayward of Human Events. "The difference is that private companies, operating in the free market, are the financial responsibility of their shareholders. No one is required to invest in them, and if the owners want to throw ridiculous bonuses at inept executives, it’s their nickel. Financially irresponsible corporations eventually run into survival issues."
He continues with a warning:
In the new world of Obama’s centrally-planned corporatism, there are no such consequences. You were forced to invest in Beacon Power, EnerDel, Solyndra, and all the other “winners” chosen by your political masters. The man who is ultimately responsible for all this has a good chance of securing re-election, in no small part because he’s persuaded you to forget all about his failures, and argue about condoms instead.
And for those of you who are trying to keep track of the number of government-backed “clean energy” companies that have run into financial trouble ranging from layoffs to losses to bankruptcies, the nonprofit Citizens Against Government Waste has been keeping track: it's nearly 20.