David Vitter’s Crony Capitalism

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Time’s Michael Grunwald writes today about Louisiana Sen. David Vitter’s charges of crony capitalism in the Solyndra affair:

“We can’t afford any more crony capitalism,” Vitter said in Wednesday. Vitter should know. He’s written a bunch of letters to the Energy Department’s loan program seeking loans for renewable energy firms.

For example, on July 1, 2009, Vitter and Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana wrote Energy Secretary Steven Chu to support a loan application by the V Vehicle Company, a clean-car start-up (backed by T. Boone Pickens and the venture capital leviathan Kleiner Perkins) that was planning a Louisiana factory. “This vehicle would serve as a catalyst for job creation,” they wrote. A year later, Vitter joined the entire Louisiana delegation in another letter pushing “expedited consideration” for VVC. Alas, the Energy Department rejected the loan, citing concerns about the company’s financial viability. Vitter must have been annoyed by all this due diligence, because in December 2010–after VVC changed its name to Next Autoworks–he, Landrieu and Congressman Rodney Alexander tried once more. “Every day that Next Autoworks’ application is delayed is another day that workers cannot be hired,” the wrote. So far, no luck.

No wonder Vitter’s angry: His cronies are losing!

Read the whole thing. It’s really a delightful post. As Grunwald says, the Solyndra story isn’t really about Solyndra itself anyway. It’s just another failed investment, after all. “No, the Solyndra story is about renewable energy. If we don’t want to be dependent on petro-thugs for our survival, if we don’t want to broil the plant, if we don’t want the health of our economy to hinge on the energy futures markets, we’re going to have to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But certain industries have a strong interest in strangling green energy in its cradle. And those interests are well represented in Louisiana.”

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This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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