A couple of articles at RedState today, coupled with a recent news item, got me thinking about the interesting contrast between three corporate CEOs. First up, consider Chris Gronet. He was the CEO of a company that made solar panels. The company had only been producing those panels for a year when the Obama Administration swung in with a gigantic $535 million taxpayer-guaranteed “stimulus” loan.
By a complete coincidence, one of his company’s primary financial backers was oilman George Kaiser, who raised at least $50,000 for President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Gronet was also savvy enough to employ the services of “green super-lobbyist” Steve McBee. A March 2011 Washington Examiner profile of McBee is actually illustrated with a photo of a beaming President Obama touring Gronet’s company.
The immense infusion of taxpayer money into Gronet’s company was supposed to produce over 4,000 jobs, as promised by Obama’s Energy Secretary, Steven Chu. That company was named Solyndra. Emphasis on the “was.” It just went spectacularly bankrupt, but its death is not exactly a surprise, at least not to anyone who doesn’t work for Barack Obama. As ABC News noted several months ago:
[One year after the Obama stimulus loan], in March 2010, the signs were not so encouraging. “The Company has suffered recurring losses from operations, negative cash flows since inception and has a net stockholders’ deficit,” is how Solyndra’s accountant, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC, assessed its financial status in an audit being prepared for an initial public offering. Those factors, it stressed, “raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.”
Recurring losses from operations, and negative cash flows since inception? Sounds like a great place to force taxpayers to bet half a billion dollars, gambling on future success in a “market” created entirely by leftist ideology!
The second interesting CEO is R. Gerard Salemme, who has held senior executive positions at a number of telecommunications companies. One of those companies is Clearwire Communications, where a Forbes profile says “Mr. Salemme was responsible for transactions valued at over $10 billion that resulted in Clearwire becoming the largest holder of spectrum in the United States and a leader in the wireless broadband industry.”
Salemme was also part of the Obama presidential transition team. It turned out to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, as Neil Stevens at RedState explains:
Where does Obama come in? In 2009, Salemme took time off from his job at Clearwire to join the Barack Obama transition team. One project of his was digital television transition issues, where he promoted the famous delay in the DTV transition. You see, the longer the DTV delay took, the longer it would be before Verizon Wireless could get its hands on the “C Block” of spectrum to aid its own 4G rollout, in order to compete with Clearwire’s network.
So the Obama administration took action, dragging its feet on DTV, in a way that hindered 4G competition. Salemme’s employer stood to benefit. Big surprise!
The time has now come for Clearwire’s 4G competition to be expanded further, as AT&T seeks to get ahold of T-Mobile’s spectrum, to allow it to roll out 4G wireless to over 95% of Americans. So naturally, the Obama DoJ is seeking to stop that from happening.
Neato! Even if you’re one of the people who won’t be getting one of the 5,000 jobs AT&T was going to bring to the United States, or otherwise benefit from the $6 billion they must now pay in penalties imposed by the Justice Department, you’ve got to admit that’s some impressive crony capitalism!
Contrast these two gentlemen with the suddenly famous Henry Juszkiewicz, the CEO of Gibson Guitars. His company was raided by the Obama Justice Department based on mysterious “violations” of obscure foreign laws, which have not been applied to any of his competitors. The foreign government in question, India, made no request for this action, and approved of the sale which prompted the raid. The Obama Justice Department seized a million dollars of Gibson property, without detailing the charges.
Ben Howe of RedState relates this remarkable conversation between Mr. J and radio host Chris Daniel:
CHRIS DANIEL: Mr. Juszkiewicz, did an agent of the US government suggest to you that your problems would go away if you used Madagascar labor instead of American labor?
HENRY JUSZKIEWICZ: They actually wrote that in a pleading.
CHRIS DANIEL: Excuse me?
HENRY JUSKIEWICZ: They actually wrote that it a pleading.
CHRIS DANIEL: That your problems would go away if you used Madagascar labor instead of our labor?
HENRY JUSKIEWICZ: Yes.
The big difference between Henry Juszkiewicz and the much more fortunate Gronet and Salemme is that Mister J is a Republican donor.
So: play ball with the Party and fill its political coffers, and the glorious State will use its power to help your business, with anything from a shower of taxpayer dollars to aggressive regulatory action against your competitors. Oppose the Party, and you might find yourself on the wrong end of laws that apparently don’t apply to the Party’s loyal supporters. The new fascism really isn’t complicated at all.
Sign up to the Human Events newsletter