House Republicans have discovered a new full-time career as cops investigating the crime scene of the Obama Administration. They’ve been poring over thousands of pages of emails between the White House and Solyndra. Some were dragged out of the Administration through subpoena, while others were handed over by the White House this week, as the Solyndra hearings achieved the kind of energy level you don’t get from solar panels.
Here’s a lovely exchange between Solyndra spokesman David Miller and a White House aide, reported by Politico:
“If you tire of the White House life and ever decide you want to move out with your best friends in [California] let me know,” Miller emailed to White House special assistant Johanna Maska the day after the visit. He added that “we could find you a great corporate gig very quickly.”
Maska, promoted this April to director of White House press advance, didn’t take Miller up on the offer.
(Emphasis mine.) This looks especially bad in the context of the exploding Solyndra scandal – it would be interesting to know if Maska was among the many Solyndra and White House employees who already knew the company was a doomed black hole of taxpayer subsidies – but I would imagine this sort of chummy “join your friends” job offer bounces between corporations and their “senior partner,” Uncle Sam, all the time. That’s one of the reasons Uncle Sam shouldn’t be the senior partner to big corporations.
Look at it this way: the end of Johanna Maska’s White House career is approaching very rapidly. Even in the most optimistic early days of Hope and Change, she knew she would be working there no later than 2016. Political operatives have a strong incentive to feather nests at the offices of corporate cronies, to set up post-political careers. Corporations have strong incentives to hire them, to gain political influence, which becomes the most valuable resource in a statist economy. No technology developed by Solyndra was worth the kind of money its White House connections brought in.
Democrat political hacks make a lot of those cozy post-political nests at media organizations, where they show up as “impartial” anchors and journalists with remarkable frequency. Solyndra was keenly interested in using its White House contacts to shape media coverage. Company spokesman Miller was upset about a July 2010 New York Times “Greenwire” piece headlined “Did solar startup’s financial crunch catch the White House napping?”
Miller’s take on the story: “It’s total crap (my subtle professional opinion) and I wanted you to be aware we are working on a response and working to intercept it so it doesn’t get picked up by NY Times if we can, and have a plan to mitigate if it does,” he wrote to Maska, Gregory Nelson of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement, and Daniella Leger, director of message events.
But the story did make it onto the Times’s website under an agreement that the newspaper has with Greenwire’s parent company, E&E Publishing.
Can’t imagine why he would have vented his spleen to three media agents of the Administration so beloved to New York Times editors! Nothing came of it, but you can’t blame Miller for trying.
Another email shows Solyndra’s vice-president of marketing and business development, Kelly Truman, successfully obtaining an edit to a video documentary the White House produced to tout the success of Solyndra as a glittering jewel in the Obama stimulus crown. There was an accurately recorded image, of the vacuum cleaning of a part, that Solyndra didn’t want shown for some reason. Yeah, that video’s going to haunt Obama for a while.
Of course every corporation wants the best possible media coverage. It’s not surprising they’d ask for some input into papers and videos prepared by their government “partners.” The problem is that the public views documentation from the government with the presumption of impartial authority. They’d never look at a corporate marketing video that way, even if they liked the video and chose to do business with the corporation. There would be a rational presumption of corporate self-interest on the part of viewers.
The presumed impartiality of the government should not be for sale to well-connected business partners. The more powerful the fusion of Big Government and Big Business becomes, the more often such betrayals of public trust occur. Of course, you don’t need many $535 million betrayals of the public trust to get the American economy into a very bad place.
Politico also mentions an early attempt to get the kind of rapid response to critical media that AttackWatch.com now joyously exists to provide:
More recently, the Glover Park Group’s Ryan Cunningham, contracted to do outside public relations for Solyndra, sent the White House communications team an email in August 2011 with suggested talking points in response to a National Review “Planet Gore” blog item calling for an investigation of DOE and Solyndra.
“It’s a fairly disjointed piece, but we wanted to flag it as it may generate buzz among conservatives,” Cunningham wrote.
It’s too bad more “buzz” wasn’t generated among conservatives, the American people, and anyone else could have stopped the massive Solyndra scam. Say what you will about the “military-industrial complex” of yore, but at least it managed to blow some stuff up. The media-government-parasite complex produces nothing, except tax money expensively laundered into campaign contributions.