On the old blog, I said that one of the big stories in the next few years would be the corruption connected with stimulus spending, especially the Green Bubble. There is simply no way to throw that much money at that many projects and not have it devolve into an influence-peddling clusterfuck.
But, you know, sometimes I hate being right all the time.
The Energy Department’s inspector general has launched more than 100 criminal investigations related to 2009 economic stimulus spending.
In written testimony prepared for delivery to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today, Inspector General Gregory Friedman said the investigations have involved “various schemes, including the submission of false information, claims for unallowable or unauthorized expenses, and other improper uses of Recovery Act funds.”
So far, the investigations have led to five criminal prosecutions and brought in “over $2.3 million in monetary recoveries,” Friedman said.
The problem is pretty simple. DOE got $35 billion to spend on “shovel-ready” projects. This was more than the agency’s entire previous budget. This was more money than they had projects for. Naturally, it was a huge mess. A slow ramp-up, with proper peer review and supervision, might have worked. But the desperate desire of the Democrats to spend as much as fast as possible meant the DOE was overwhelmed.
Want an example, beside Solyndra? Here ya go:
Move over, SunPower. Blow out your candles, Solar Energy Project. SoloPower your sun has set; Fisker Automotive, your race is run.
There can be only one Solyndra II, and it is Beacon Power, a Massachusetts energy storage company that went bankrupt Sunday, unsaved by a $43 million taxpayer-guaranteed loan from Steven Chu’s Department of Energy.
Beacon is not as bad as Solyndra. It’s still operating at lower payroll and may have some assets to reclaim. So far, there is evidence only of a bad business plan. But with over a hundred of these out there, we’re going to find more corruption and waste than you can shake a stick at.
The worst thing? If the budget talks are anything to go by, DOE will not be reigned in. Budget cuts will hit other agencies that did not get stimulus spending and are being reasonably prudent with their funds.
But … those agencies weren’t giving money to campaign bundlers. Hah. What were they thinking?