The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded a large loan guarantee to a biofuel company whose investors donated handsome sums to the Obama campaign. Some of them have even visited the White House to discuss federal job-creation efforts.
Taxpayers will guarantee a $105 million loan for Fulcrum Sierra BioFuels, a project of Fulcrum Bioenergy of Pleasanton, CA. The loan guarantee will be administered by the Department of Agriculture through its Rural Development Biorefinery Assistance Program.
While the USDA loan programs have not received as much attention as the Energy Department’s, Fulcrum’s political connections may fuel allegations of cronyism in the Obama administration’s continued green energy “investment.”
McDermott, who currently serves on Fulcrum’s board, is a managing director of one of its top investors, U.S. Renewables Group, a California-based venture capital firm that also invested in SolarReserve, a company backed by the Energy Department. Another managing director, Lee Bailey, has given more than $20,000 to Democratic campaigns since 2008.
Another major Fulcrum investor, Rustic Canyon Partners, is also staffed by some major Obama contributors. Founding partner Tom Unterman has bundled between $150,000 and $300,000 for Obama’s two presidential campaigns. FEC records show that he and his wife Janet have themselves donated more than $500,000 to political campaigns and groups since 2008, all of them Democratic.
Fulcrum is listed as one of Unterman’s investments on Rustic Canyon’s website.
Unterman and Rustic Canyon Managing Partner Nate Redmond, who donated $1,800 to Obama’s 2008 campaign, both visited the White House in June to discuss innovation and economic growth with senior staffers. White House visitor logs show Unterman also attended a St. Patrick’s Day event in 2009 hosted by the president.