Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republican Party had a field day when the energy company Solyndra filed bankruptcy and shut down. The president and the Department of Energy provided subsidies for the renewable energy company and it fell flat on its face. Although the former governor is attacking the president on this issue, what gets left out is Romney handed out subsidies to renewable energy companies in Massachusetts. And just like Solyndra, some of those companies failed.
According to Politico, Mitt Romney personally delivered a check to Konarka, a solar start-up in Lowell, MA. On that same day, Romney took $15 million from a $150 million Energy Trust Fund created taking money from electricity companies after the passage of a 1998 energy deregulation law was passed. He also created the Green Energy Fund.
Romney said, in justification of spending tax dollars, “The trust fund has been growing for years, and I believe now is the time to refocus its assets in such a manner that it can become a major economic springboard for the commonwealth.” Although the state recouped some of its losses by selling stock, the company filed for bankruptcy last year.
Other companies a part of Romney’s Green Energy Fund include CTP Hydrogen Inc, a fuel cell company that shut down in 2008; Protonex Technology Corp., another fuel cell developer laid off a third of its employees and closed a Colorado plant.
In this case Romney isn’t being faulted for investing in renewable energy. The fault lies with the idea that he, along with other Republicans, criticized the president for doing the very thing Romney did while governor. Not only did he do it, some of the companies lost the money and others closed. It is the very nature of venture capitalismÂ—something Romney likes to tout about his own record.
The governor’s people point out that the trust fund head did not report directly to Romney. They also say the plan wasn’t specifically Romney’s idea. The fact is he championed the idea and even delivered the money to one company. Sonia Hamel, former assistant to Romney on climate issues said, “It’s exactly the kind of thing he’d say you invest in, that you win some, you lose some. It does seem hypocritical.”
In a meeting with reporters Romney said, “I’d like to look at Barack Obama’s record,” Romney said last month as he met with reporters in flight from New Hampshire to South Carolina. “So as we talk about my experience in the private sector, I’ll talk about his experienceÂ—he’s now been a venture capitalist in Solyndra, Fisker, Tesla, and he’s been a private equity guy in General Motors and Chrysler.”
Since Romney handed out subsidies, and he wants to be president, maybe it’s time to look at his record on the matter.
(Photo Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore)