House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) and Subcommittee on Environment Ranking Member Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) sent a letter to U. S. International Development Finance Institution (DFC) Acting Chief Executive Officer Dev Jagadesan expressing concerns over a $500 million loan to First Solar Inc., a manufacturing company owned by prolific Democrat donor Lukas Walton. Mr. Walton donated $300,000 to the Biden campaign and the loan raises questions about the possibility the Biden Administration is now providing taxpayer dollars to repay political debts. The lawmakers are requesting all documents and communications between the DFC and White House related to the loan decision-making process for First Solar.
“We are conducting oversight of the U.S. International Development Finance Institution’s recent $500 million loan to First Solar, Inc. The loan, which is DFC’s ‘largest single debt financing transaction,’ raises questions about the involvement of political considerations in the analysis and decision-making processes at the DFC. On December 7, 2021, DFC approved the loan to First Solar, an American manufacturing company owned by Lukas Walton. Mr. Walton is a prolific donor to Democrats…,” wrote the lawmakers. “We are concerned the close relationship between Mr. Walton and the Biden Administration may have played a role in securing financing for First Solar at the expense of American taxpayers.”
The $500 million loan to First Solar will support construction for a solar module manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu, India. DFC’s press release states the loan to First Solar will support President Biden’s Build Back Better World Initiative and redirects individuals directly to the White House website. This is not the first time that a Democrat Administration has provided loan guarantees to First Solar because of its political connections. The Obama Administration awarded a $4.5 billion dollar loan to First Solar in 2011. In 2012, the House Oversight Committee found that First Solar’s loan was deficient because it failed to meet the loan conditions.
“The Biden Administration appears to be throwing American taxpayer money at questionable technologies to repay political debts,” concluded the lawmakers. “We must ensure that federal financing and loan programs are good stewards of taxpayer money by operating in a transparent manner, free from political interference and not subject to the whims of the current political climate. Given Mr. Walton’s extensive history fundraising for Democrats, this loan raises questions about what role his political contributions may have played in DFC’s decision to grant this loan.”
In order for Committee Republicans to better understand the potential conflict of interest relating to First Solar’s political connections with the Biden Administration, the lawmakers are requesting all documents and communications from the DFC and White House related to First Solar.
Read the letter here.