Venture corporatist Steve Westly benefitted personally and financially from President Obama’s push for green energy after supporting the president with major campaign contributions. Tonight he’ll take the stage in Charlotte, NC, for a high-profile speech.
Westly heads up the California-based venture capital firm the Westly Group. He bundled more than $500,000 for Obama’s 2008 campaign, and another $200,000 to $500,000 for his reelection effort. Westly co-chaired the Obama campaign’s 2008 effort in California, and sat on the campaign’s National Finance Committee.
Westly now has a seat on a major Energy Department advisory board. He enjoys access to top White House officials, including Valerie Jarrett, whom he warned of political fallout for the Obama administration in the event of a Solyndra bankruptcy.
According to the Center for Public Integrity, internal Energy Department emails show “how top donors, such as Westly, have the connections and the ability to weigh in” on the department’s decisions to finance green energy companies. Westly has refused to answer questions regarding a potential conflict of interest between his role at DOE and his numerous investments in companies that have received taxpayer support through that department.
The Westly Group backed Tesla Motors, an electric-vehicle company that received financing from the Energy Department.
“Government is not always bad and especially for something that is going to affect your business, you should be involved with it,” Westly reportedly told Tesla founder Marc Tarpenning. “He encouraged us to think about Washington.”
The Westly Group was quite brazen about its government-centric strategy.
“We believe that with the Obama administration, and other governments … committing hundreds of billions of dollars to clean tech, there has never been a better time to launch clean tech companies,” the company’s website stated. “The Westly Group is uniquely positioned to take advantage of this surge of interest and growth.”
Westly will speak at the convention during the 5 p.m. hour, according to a schedule posted at Politico.
Correction: While Westly invested in numerous companies that received taxpayer funding, Solyndra was not one of them. Scribe regrets the error.