Conservative media are seizing on a report by The Daily Caller to baselessly suggest that Van Jones' connection to a California solar company helped the company secure a $2 million grant from the Department of Energy. But Jones is an unpaid advisor to Solar Mosaic and was not even aware of -- let alone involved in -- the grant application process, according to the company's President.
This latest faux-controversy started when The Daily Caller reported that former Obama administration green jobs czar Van Jones serves as an advisor to Solar Mosaic, and that the company "employed Rebuild the Dream, Jones' firm, to do its public relations work." But Billy Parish, the president of Solar Mosaic, told Media Matters that Jones is "one of over a dozen unpaid advisors to the company," and that he "was not involved in the grant application in any way and didn't even know about it." And Natalie Foster, CEO of Rebuild the Dream, told Media Matters that reports that the organization was "employed" by Solar Mosaic are "not accurate at all." Foster said that while Rebuild the Dream supports companies like Solar Mosaic, "there is no formal, monetized relationship."
And contrary to The Daily Caller's suggestion that Solar Mosaic was singled out for an especially generous grant because of its connection to Jones, many of the projects supported by the same program received more funding. Solar Mosaic was one of nine companies awarded grants by DOE's SunShot Incubator Program in its latest round of funding -- the seventh round since the program began in 2007. The Daily Caller noted that of the nine recent recipients, "Solar Mosaic received the most money," without mentioning that almost half of the 47 projects supported by the Incubator program have been awarded more than $2 million -- including 16 companies selected by the Bush administration.
The Daily Caller offered no evidence that politics played a role in DOE's decision, but that didn't stop the right-wing media from jumping to that conclusion. After repeating The Daily Caller's false claims, Fox Business' Gerri Willis commented: "You know, it's one thing to invest in a cleaner future, but it's another to invest in whoever has the White House on speed dial." And Rush Limbaugh brashly declared: "This is more slush-fund money, this time going to his buddy Van Jones."
After an extensive investigation into Solyndra turned up "no evidence of wrongdoing," the conservative media are desperately scrambling to justify their allegations that the Obama administration's clean energy investments are based on politics instead of merit. But once again, it is the conservative media's clean energy reporting that is without merit.