When is a government watchdog not really a watchdog?
When he rolls over and lays at the feet of his master rather than sink his teeth into a program that he’s been tasked to guard.
Such appears to be the (unsurprising) case with Herbert Allison, Jr. (pictured), a former Wall Street executive (Merrill Lynch and TIAA-CREF) until he was appointed president and CEO of Fannie Mae in 2008, after it was put into conservatorship. Subsequently President Obama named (and the Senate confirmed) him as overseer of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the $700 billion asset acquisition fund that bailed out Wall Street financial institutions. He served in that role for about 15 months, until September 2010.
But it’s Allison’s role as a special investigator of the Department of Energy’s stimulus-funded loan program that is sparking curiosity, as explained in an Associated Press story published yesterday. Not long after …
Automotive and green technology advocacy Web sites are abuzz with a story about a former employee of Fisker Automotive who claims the company released its $102,000-plus Karma electric sport sedan prematurely, in order to meet targets set forth by the Department of Energy so Fisker could access funds from a $529 million loan award.
This followed reports from all over the Internet that Consumer Reports purchased a Karma in Connecticut for $107,850, only to see it totally disabled before the magazine could run it through its tests.
The whistleblower story originated on the pro-Clean tech Web site Gigaom.com, and was written by electric vehicle cheerleader Katie Fehrenbacher. According to her report, “The former Fisker employee said that it wasn’t uncommon for the first Karma cars to have technical issues, and said that was one reason for leaving Fisker — the employee now works …
Yet another solar company that received loan guarantees from the Department of Energy has dismissed factory workers, lopping off 70 percent of its U.S. employees. Loveland, Colo.-based Abound Solar announced Tuesday it would lay off 280 workers at its production plant near Longmont, leaving 120 still employed. The start-up (2009) company attributed the cutbacks to the need for upgrades at the plant to manufacture more efficient solar panels, with plans to restore production levels and rehire most employees within six to nine months.
“Hopefully at the end of that time period we will bring people back,” said Steve Abely, Abound’s Chief Financial Officer, to the Boulder Daily Camera.