This brings us to Al Gore.
Earlier this month the Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig reported that the former vice president’s wealth is today estimated at $100 million, up from less than $2 million when he left government service on a salary of $181,400. How did he make this kind of money? It wasn’t his share of the Nobel Peace Prize. Nor was it the book and movie proceeds from “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Instead, as Ms. Leonnig reports, “Fourteen green-tech firms in which Gore invested received or directly benefited from more than $2.5 billion in loans, grants and tax breaks, part of President Obama’s historic push to seed a U.S. renewable-energy industry with public money.”
That’s nice work if you can get it—at least if you’re on the investment-management end of the deal. But what if you’re on the worker-bee end?
The Post story mentions one of the beneficiaries of Mr. Gore’s investment acumen, Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls, JCI -1.34% which won a $299 million award from the federal government in 2009 to make electric-car batteries. Here’s how that worked out:
“The company has dramatically scaled back, after executives concluded demand for electric cars was far lower than the administration forecast. The factory outfitted with stimulus funds is nearly idle, and plans to build a second plant have been postponed.”
Compare this to:
Johnson Controls Breaks Ground on New Automotive Battery Distribution Center in Delaware
MIDDLETOWN – Johnson Controls, Inc., the world’s largest supplier of automotive batteries, today broke ground on a new 400,000 square-foot distribution center in Middletown, Del. The company is investing more than $75 million in the facility, which will perform the charging, packaging and distribution of automotive batteries for the Northeast region of the United States.
The groundbreaking was attended byGovernor Jack Markell, U.S. Senator Tom Carper, U.S Senator Chris Coons,Delaware Economic Development OfficeSecretary Alan Levin, Middletown Mayor Kenneth Branner and Johnson Controls Vice President and General Manager for the U.S. and Canada Kevin Pasqua and Middletown Plant Manager Rick Thompson. Several other company leaders and state officials joined the celebration.
“Johnson Controls could have relocated elsewhere but decided to stay in Middletown and expand in Delaware,” said Governor Jack Markell. “It’s great to see a business here succeed and be confident that expanding its work will lead to even greater success. This project puts Delawareans to work producing and distributing products for the region. As Johnson Controls moves forward with its expansion, Delaware’s job market moves forward as well.”
Add the $2.06 million received by Johnson Controls to the tens of millions received by Fisker Automotive and Bloom Energy as companies that have received special treatment in Delaware because of their connection to the California Venture firm of Kleiner Perkins, whose leadership consists of Markell donor, John Doerr, and Green-energy profiteer, Al Gore. Oh, and Johnson Controls purchased the remaining assets of A123, the failed battery developer for Fisker Automotive. And the Wall Street Journal article speaks to the success of electric car batteries.
In the Governor’s defense in the case of Johnson Controls, it is an existing company with an existing supply chain, existing expertise, and they received significantly less money. But this payout continues a dangerous trend in Delaware. Send Jack the money, and he gives it to his friends…
Al Gore has profited nicely from the public. Will anyone else?