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Obama administration knew long ahead of time of electric car maker's failure

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 24th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Obama administration was warned as early as 2010 that electric car maker Fisker Automotive Inc. was not meeting milestones, freshly released documents show. According to the documentation, Fisker was not meeting its obligations for a half-billion dollar government loan, nearly a year before U.S. officials froze it.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - An Energy Department official said as far back in a June 2010 email that Fisker's loan could be jeopardized on account of their failure to meet goals established by the Energy Department.

Fisker continued receiving money until June of 2011, at which time the Department of Energy stopped further funding. Fisker presented new information that called into question whether key milestones and obligations such as a launch of the company's signature $100,000 Karma hybrid had been achieved.

The December 2011 credit report said "DOE staff asked questions about the delays" in the launch of the Karma "and received varied and incomplete explanations," which led to the suspension of the loan. Fisker had received a total of $192 million of the $529 million loan before it was suspended.

An official in DOE's loan program office, Sandra Claghorn, in the June 2010 email had written that Fisker "may be in limbo due to a lack of compliance with financial covenants" set up by the Energy Department to protect taxpayers in the event of default. Another document, from April 2010, listed milestones that Fisker had not yet met.

A spokeswoman for the Energy Department, Aoife McCarthy said that the June 2010 email was taken out of context.

"The document shows that one person at a meeting discussed the possibility that Fisker might not meet a financial commitment" required by the Energy Department, McCarthy said in an email. The Department of Energy received the needed certification five days later and subsequently made the loan payment, she said.

The potential loss of $171 million would be largest loss of federal loan money since the 2011 failure of solar panel maker Solyndra, which declared bankruptcy and laid off all its workers after receiving a $528 million loan from the Energy Department.

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