AP's Sept. 16 Solyndra Story, Part 2: A Pathetic 'Both Parties Were In On It' Attempt

Part 1 on the Associated Press's September 16 evening story ("Obama admin reworked Solyndra loan to favor donor"; saved here at my web host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) by Matthew Daly and Jack Gillum criticized the reporters and the wire service for making it appear as if all the findings in the story were the result of original work.

Two other paragraphs in the report in my opinion represent a blatant but clumsy attempt to give the impression that the bankruptcy of a major beneficiary of Department of Energy stimulus-driven loans was a bipartisan fiasco:


Argonaut is an investment vehicle of the George Kaiser Family Foundation of Tulsa, Okla. The foundation is headed by billionaire George Kaiser, a major Obama campaign contributor and a frequent visitor to the White House. Kaiser raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama's 2008 campaign, federal election records show. Kaiser has made at least 16 visits to the president's aides since 2009, according to White House visitor logs.

Madrone Partners is affiliated with the Walton family, descendants of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. Rob Walton, the eldest son of Sam Walton, contributed $2,500 last year to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Y'all get the point, don't you? George Kaiser, Democrat. Rob Walton, Republican. Therefore, the takeaway is supposed to be that donors to both parties were somehow involved in convincing the government to allow their January Argonaut-Madrone loan of $69 million to have senior status over all other debt, including money the company owed Uncle Sam.

Even ignoring the huge difference in amounts given -- Give me a break. But it's far worse than that. Rob Walton gave far more money to Democrats in 2008 when it arguably would have been far more relevant to getting Solyndra's original funding. Additionally, I couldn't even find the $2,500 contribution to the RNC the AP reporters claim occurred.

Madrone Partners may be funded by the Waltons, and I don't want to pretend that they have no influence, but as seen here, the investment firm's two executives, Greg Boyd Penner and Thomas A. Patterson, are not family members. In addition, the investment firm appears to have no publicly identified board or committees, which would not be particularly unusual for such an operation.

Readers will note at this Business Week link that Penner and Patterson have 115 and 39 "relationships," respectively. These "relationships" are described at each gentleman's link as "Board Members Affiliated." Those listed appear to be members of other boards on which Penner and Patterson serve. Patterson's detailed affiliation page indicates that he has no common board link to anyone named Walton. Penner has two Walton links, one with "S. Robson Walton" of Greener Capital, who is the "Rob Walton" to whom AP refers, and another with "Jim Walton" of Arvest Bank Group. The common affiliation is that all three gentlemen are on Wal-Mart's board.

In contrast to how it reported Kaiser's involvement as head of the Kaiser Family Foundation which has invested in and runs Argonaut, note that the AP reporters did not specifically say that "Rob Walton" has any active involvement in Madrone or the foundation funding it. This may be because he doesn't. If he really doesn't, why name him? If he does, why not specify what his involvement is?

Daly and Gillum were also strangely selective in identifying the political contributions of S. Robson Walton aka "Rob Walton" (2008 OpenSecrets.org link; 2010 link; note that searches on "Rob Walton" and "Robert Walton" at the Heavy Hitters section of OpenSecrets.org both came up empty):

RobWaltonPoliticalContribs2008and2010

First, note that the $2,500 contribution the AP specifically named in its story isn't present. Second, and far more important, note that Rob Walton and his wife donated far more than $2,500 to the DNC and Barack Obama in 2008. The combined 2008 total of $34,100 is about 14 times larger than the unlocated $2,500 contribution the wire service claims Rob Walton made to the RNC. If one is going to allege quid pro quo -- and again, if Rob Walton even has anything to do with Madrone, which the AP never really established -- the money going to Democrats in 2008 in anticipation of regime change is far more relevant. It is beyond comprehension why Daly and Gillum didn't report them.

It appears that Matthew Byers and Jack Gillum might have thought that their story was too harsh on Democrats and felt like they need to throw in something -- anything -- that would make it appear that Republicans also got their hands dirty with Solyndra. If so -- Nice try, guys; no sale. But, again if my take on things is correct, what an incredibly irresponsible and deceptive thing to do.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.