Politics

FactCheck: Romney attacks Obama's solar program

Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Mitt Romney campaign is out with a new ad attacking the president over his stimulus loan guarantees to green energy companies. First on the list is Solyndra, and it's not the only Bay Area company targeted.

Remember last week when Romney stood outside the Solyndra plant in Fremont and claimed that government loan guarantees had gone to benefit Obama's friends and family? ABC7 News reported then that it was a false claim, but that hasn't stopped the Romney campaign from repeating it in their latest advertisement.

With a grainy, strobe-like effect, the ad accuses the president of spending tax dollars to enrich his friends and family.

"The inspector general said contracts were steered to friends and family," the ad says.

FactCheck: That's false. In a report to Congress, the inspector general never said contracts were steered to friends and family. He said only that his office was investigating the possibility, along with a raft of other possibilities and in the 14 months since then no cases of that kind of fraud have been filed, contrary to what the ad suggests.

"More than $16 billion have gone to companies like Solyndra that are linked to big Obama and Democrat donors," the ad says.

FactCheck: That's misleading. The $16 billion figure comes from a book by conservative writer Peter Schweizer, former advisor to Sarah Palin and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. FactCheck.org found first Schweizer over stated the amount by $6 billion, adding that "one might expect that a healthy percentage of owners of green energy companies might lean Democratic" and that "some went to Republican donors."

"ECOtality received $126 million in taxpayer money lost $45 million and is currently under investigation," the ad says.

FactCheck: Again, that's misleading. San Francisco-based ECOtality has received $42 million of an ongoing $126 million contract to build electric car charging stations. It lost $45 million in the past two years, but the first quarter of this year it turned a profit of $1.2 million. The ad is correct in stating ECOtality is under investigation. The SEC is investigating alleged insider trading.

"SunPower, more than $1 billion in loan guarantees, lost half a billion last year, laying off workers," the ad says.

FactCheck: That's partially accurate; the San Jose-based SunPower did report an operating loss of $534 million, as we reported last year, but the ad ignored the rest of the story, which is the company's new majority stockholder total is a French company that ranks among the top oil and energy companies in the world and the layoffs, a net reduction of 41 jobs, were mostly in Italy.

FactCheck.org found the Romney campaign did a lot of selective picking. The same strategy the president uses when he criticizes Romney's years at Bain Capital.

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Tags:
mitt romney, solar energy, elections, 2012 presidential race, politics, mark matthews
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