Several of Barack Obama's top campaign supporters went from soliciting political contributions to working from within the Energy Department as it showered billions in taxpayer-backed stimulus money on alternative energy firms, ABC News and iWatch News have learned.
One of them was Steven J. Spinner, a high-tech consultant and energy investor who raised at least $500,000 for the candidate. He became one of Energy Secretary Steven Chu's key loan program advisors while his wife's law firm represented a number of companies that had applied for loans.
Recovery Act records show Allison Spinner's law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, received $2.4 million in federal funds for legal fees related to the $535 million Energy Department loan guarantee to Solyndra, a solar company whose financial meltdown has prompted multiple investigations. She pledged to take no portion of the money and did not work on the loan applications.
As House Republicans step up their probe of the Obama administration's green-energy loan program in the wake of Solyndra's bankruptcy, a key focus -- and open question -- is whether the president's political supporters had any hand in influencing which companies received the taxpayer support.
"There is great concern over political influence contaminating the DOE loan guarantee program," said Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. "The prevalence of fundraisers and bundlers scattered throughout DOE is cause for alarm and is a subject our investigation does not take lightly -- we are looking into this and will see where it leads us."
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