Reid helped steer tax dollars to well-connected green energy operators

BY SARAH WESTWOOD | MARCH 9, 2015 | 11:06 AM

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada gives an interview with in his office on Capitol Hill...Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid helped steer billions of federal tax dollars to companies supporting a green energy group run by two of his former staff members and a current campaign operative.

The Nevada Democrat pushed for millions of dollars in grants and billions more in federal loan guarantees for corporations that donated to the Clean Energy Project, a nonprofit founded by a pair of former staffers with close ties to both Reid and to a major Democratic PAC associated with the senator, Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon reported.

One such company, California-based Fulcrum Bioenergy, received a hefty federal grant in 2014 after donating to the Clean Energy Project a year earlier.

Another Clean Energy Project "partner," Abengoa, has collected billions in stimulus dollars and grants from the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

A key strategist and hiring authority on Reid's 2016 re-election campaign, Rebecca Lambe, founded and directed the Clean Energy Project in 2008. Lambe continues to serve as an adviser to the nonprofit.

Susan McCue, who once served as Reid's chief of staff, is a member of the nonprofit's board.

Spokesmen for Reid defended the senator's involvement with the energy companies by touting the jobs that each has provided.
But the blur of money and influence surrounding generous government financial favors to companies like Fulcrum Bioenergy has given transparency advocates cause for concern.

For example, the Podesta Group — a lobbying shop established by Tony Podesta, brother of former White House counsel John Podesta — began representing Fulcrum months before the corporation netted $175 million in federal grants. John Podesta is widely expected to play a major role in managing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's impending presidential campaign.

Reid lobbied then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on behalf of Fulcrum before it received $70 million from the Pentagon.
Another well-connected company, Ormat Geothermal, raked in $350 million through federal loan guarantees a year before becoming a supporter of the Clean Energy Project.

Ormat's in-house lobbyist, Paul Thomsen, advised Reid on energy issues and was featured in one of the senator's 2010 campaign advertisements.