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Exclusive: Special Interest Groups Spent Nearly $11 Million On Solyndra Attack Ads Since April — But They Didn’t Work

By Stephen Lacey  

"Exclusive: Special Interest Groups Spent Nearly $11 Million On Solyndra Attack Ads Since April — But They Didn’t Work"

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When the solar manufacturing company Solyndra went bankrupt last September after receiving a $527 million loan guarantee, it sparked a politically-motivated Congressional investigation into the White House’s handling of the program — an “investigation” that critics admitted would “stop on election day.”

After acquiring 300,000 documents, holding a dozen hearings and official meetings, issuing two subpenas, and spending more than a million dollars on the investigation, members of Congress failed to present any evidence of political wrongdoing.

Congressional critics have “not shown the loan was granted as a result of political favoritism, despite repeated campaign-trail claims,” reported The Hill.

That didn’t stop special interest groups from spending millions of dollars on television ads this campaign season to trump up the Solyndra bankruptcy and spread “over-the-top, ultimately ridiculous” claims about clean energy programs.

According to a ThinkProgress analysis of independent advertisements from Kantar Media’s CMAG system, outside conservative groups spent $10.78 million on presidential campaign ads between April 1 and October 1 of this year specifically attacking the Solyndra loan or mentioning Solyndra as part of a broader attack on clean energy stimulus spending.

The ads were purchased by the American Energy Alliance, the American Future Fund, the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, Karl Rove’s Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, and Let Freedom Ring.

However, the impact of those Solyndra ads on American voters mirrored the outcome of the year-long Congressional investigation into the company: minimal to nothing.

Despite the millions of dollars spent on Solyndra-related television spots over the last five months, polls show that a majority of American voters still don’t know about the company or are indifferent.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from early October showed that 58 percent of registered voters are unaware of Solyndra. The poll also found that one quarter of registered voters had a negative view of the company and 15 percent had a neutral view.

A day earlier, Hart Research released a poll conducted for the Solar Energy Industries Association showing that 67 percent of registered voters are either indifferent about Solyndra or have heard nothing recently about the company. At the same time, 70 percent of voters said they would support more government incentives to help develop the solar industry.

In addition, an April poll from the Pew Research Center found that 52 percent of Americans believe that “alternatives” to fossil fuels are the most important energy priority for the country, with 39 percent saying coal, oil, and gas are should be top priorities. That poll also found that conservative Tea Party males — many of whom would never vote for a moderate candidate to begin with — are the only voters likely to view some level of government support for clean energy negatively.

Special interest groups might be buying millions in clean energy attack ads. But voters sure aren’t buying them.

The wave of money promoting lies and hyperbole on clean energy has pushed the political conversation around energy to the extreme. But the actual impact is limited. Americans still overwhelmingly support clean energy, despite what well-armed political groups say.

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10 Responses to Exclusive: Special Interest Groups Spent Nearly $11 Million On Solyndra Attack Ads Since April — But They Didn’t Work

  1. Dan Lee Uhl says:

    Ironically the money spent helped provide ballast, for the Bush-swamped economy. A backhanded assist, but it is what it is.

  2. Rich2506 says:

    A month or so ago, I wrote a Letter to the Editor about the economy and mentioned green energy as one of a host of solutions. A right-winger excitedly informed me that it was then the one-year anniversary of the collapse of Solyndra. I had not been aware of that because I didn’t (And still don’t) regard it as being a date of any significance. Stuff happens, businesses fail, ya move on.

  3. Mike says:

    I’m afraid that Romney’s 90 billion wasted on green energy statement, that Obama did not respond to, may have done more damage than 100 attack ads.

    That 58% of voters never heard of Solyndra does not mean much. Most people cannot find Iraq on a world map. The charges of cronyism likely help raise money from the GOP base.

  4. Mark Shapiro says:

    OT, do you want to see and hear some good rhetoric?

    Watch Australian PM Julia Gillard debate a motion from opposition leader Abbott designed to make her look bad.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfo3SGIiSE0

    By the way, Gillard and her party are implementing carbon trading down under, against ferocious opposition. Will it work?

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Gillard is, alas, a particularly useless politician, an absolutely groveling sycophant to the USA and Israel, a hostage to the neo-liberal lunacy that dominates what passes for political debate here and a politician with an unfailing ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Her standing up, at last, and after two years of villainous abuse from the Right (led by the Murdoch sewer cum asylum)to the Rightwing thugs was, however, really good to see. What is truly amazing, however, was the response of the coterie of Rightwing thugs who dominate the MSM here. To see Gillard, and masses of others, finally respond to their decades of bullying, hectoring and vile abuse, has sent them ape-shit. There is one thing that a Rightwing bully (forgive the redundancy)hates and, thankfully, really fears, and that is their victims fighting back. Today’s issue of Murdoch’s local flagship, ‘The Australian’ is, in my opinion, way beyond hysterical, way beyond vicious in the excesses of its unhinged bias and abusive vitriol, in abusing Gillard and defending Abbott. I detect the stench of fear, a deliriously delicious odour that we must hope emanates more and more fragrantly and copiously from the sweaty and mucilaginous hides of these creatures, as decent humanity finally fights back.

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The best dang democracy money can buy!

  6. Ralph Novy says:

    Can any of these worthless political hacks even spell “spurious,” let alone understand and appreciate the concept?

  7. Mike Roddy says:

    Don’t be so sure that the Solyndra mantra isn’t working. Those oil company/Republican PR firms are good, and their messages are road tested with focus groups. Over time, Solyndra will become a cuss word in the American consciousness.

    • Solarreserve is building a large concentrated solar power (CSP) tower at Crescent Dunes near Tonopah, Nevada. The project is backed by the same government loan program that backed Solyndra, and it looks like it will be smashing success.

      It’s our job to make the Crescent Dunes plant a household word.