John Podesta, co-chairman of Obama’s transition team
The sister-in-law of John Podesta, President Obama’s influential White House transition director, served as the lobbyist for a wind power firm that was just awarded a $135.8 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.
The company is Brookfield Asset Management. It boasts a board of nine directors, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s long-term girlfriend.
The Energy Department’s promise to Brookfield marks the latest in controversial massive alternative energy loans to companies with strong ties to the Obama White House and to top Democrat lawmakers.
Last month, the grant was finalized to build the 99 megawatt Granite Reliable wind project in New Hampshire’s Coos County, making it the state’s largest wind plant.
Seventy-five percent of the new wind project is owned by BAIF Granite Holdings, which was created earlier this year by Brookfield Renewable Power, a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management of New York.
Since 2009, Brookfield has been represented by the lobby firm Heather Podesta and Partners, LLC.
Podesta, a top financial bundler for Democrat politicians, is wife of lobbyist and art collector, Tony Podesta, who is the brother of John Podesta.
John Podesta is director of the Center for American Progress, which is reportedly highly influential in helping to craft White House policy.
A Time magazine article profiled the influence of Podesta’s Center for American Progress in the formation of the Obama administration, stating that “not since the Heritage Foundation helped guide Ronald Reagan’s transition in 1981 has a single outside group held so much sway.”
The center is funded by billionaire George Soros. Its board includes Van Jones, Obama’s former “green jobs” czar, who resigned in September 2009 after it was exposed he founded a communist revolutionary organization.
Heather Podesta and her husband this past July topped the FEC’s lobbyist bundler database, raising more money in the six months prior than any other lobbyist by far. Their fund raising was largely for Democrats.
According to White House visitor logs, Heather Podesta visited the White House eight times in Obama’s first six months alone.
Brookfield, meanwhile, is a Toronto, Ontario-based asset management company that manages a global portfolio of assets valued at over $120 billion. The firm’s assets include not only renewable power generation but also real estate, including some of Manhattan’s most famous skyline buildings.
Brookfield also happens to own Zuccotti Park, the park where the Occupy Wall Street protesters are currently holed up. The protesters have reportedly been making a mess of the park, which is named after Brookfield’s co-chairman, John Zuccotti.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Brookfield wanted the protesters removed, but Bloomberg’s New York Police Department urged the private company to allow the protests to stay in the park.
There isn’t much Brookfield can do to evict the protesters, since the park’s charter allows for 24-hour public access.
Earlier this week, WND was first to report that Mayor Bloomberg’s long-term girlfriend, Dianna L. Taylor, serves as one of nine members of Brookfield’s board of directors.
The loan to Brookfield is just the latest example of controversial handouts to “green” companies with White House ties.
Last month, WND broke the story that Obama’s nominee for Commerce secretary, John Bruson, served as chairman of the board of a solar energy company that recently received a $1.37 billion federal loan guarantee – the largest the Department of Energy has ever given for a solar power project.
Now that company, BrightSource Energy, is attempting to build the world’s largest solar power plant amid concerns such ventures may be too risky an investment for the federal government.
Also raising concerns about possible favors being pulled is a report from last month revealing that a $737 million government loan guarantee was given to a solar company in which Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law has a stake.
The loan to Brookfield comes at a time when the entire solar energy enterprise is being questioned as overseas manufacturers, particularly China and Taiwan, have produced similar products and services at much lower prices.
Already, the cost of generating power with panels plunged about 37 percent in the past year, as Chinese factories cut prices. The price slashes pushed three U.S. makers, including Solyndra, into bankruptcy protection in the past quarter.
With research by Brenda J. Elliott