President Obama rubbed elbows Monday night with two men at the center of the Solyndra loan scandal at an exclusive fundraiser in California.
Steve Westly, a financier whose money-raising prowess helped to snag him a post on the administration’s energy advisory board, and Matt Rogers, a former Energy Department senior adviser who helped to approve the Solyndra loan, were spotted by reporters at the $35,800-per-person fundraiser for the president’s re-election campaign.
Mr. Westly sent warnings to the president not to attend an event at Solyndra’s headquarters in the Bay area because of shaky finances at the solar energy company, which had received a fast-tracked $535 million federal loan guarantee in 2010 as part of the administration’s economic stimulus program. Mr. Rogers was partly responsible for overseeing stimulus awards at the Energy Department.
They were among about 60 wealthy donors who attended the fundraiser at the swanky home of progressive activist Quinn Delaney and real estate developer Wayne Jordan, a big Obama bundler, in Piedmont, Calif., near Oakland.
Reporters traveling with the president saw Mr. Westly juggling lemons, entertaining kids at the party. He was seated later at one of the tables farthest from the president as he spoke.
Mr. Obama stayed away from any discussion of alternative energy at the fundraiser, except to say that his re-election would ensure that the government promotes “smart regulations … that are going to deal with issues like climate change.”
Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, have attacked the administration’s support of the Solyndra loan and other stimulus programs as examples of Mr. Obama’s “crony capitalism.” The solar-energy start-up firm later went bankrupt.
“The Obama Administration betrayed American taxpayers when it dumped hundreds of millions of public dollars into Solyndra while ignoring clear warnings about the company’s dire financial situation,” Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement.
“President Obama’s first term worked out well for his donors who got special access and taxpayer money for their failed ventures. It hasn’t worked as well for the 23 million Americans struggling for work in the worst economic recovery our country has ever had.”
On Monday, the White House said it would veto a House bill that would require a significant expansion of offshore oil and gas leasing. The administration said the legislation “would undermine the targeted, science-based and regionally-tailored offshore development strategy that the American people and the States have helped develop over the last three years.”
Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the veto threat was more evidence of the president’s misguided energy policies.
“As energy prices have risen and our economy continues to struggle, President Obama insists on hindering efforts to expand domestic production and create American jobs,” she said. “His self-described ‘hodgepodge’ energy policy has been an abject failure. Whether blocking job-creating initiatives like the Keystone pipeline or wasting taxpayer money on boondoggles like Solyndra, President Obama doesn’t have a clue when it comes to America’s energy future.”