Follow the money.
(WaPo) — An investment firm whose vice chairman has been an adviser and fundraiser for President Obama saw one of its portfolio companies win approval this year for $50 million in loans from the administration’s clean-energy loan program.
Washington-based Perseus says its affiliation with James A. Johnson, a major fundraiser for Obama’s campaign, played no role in persuading the Energy Department to award the loan to Vehicle Production Group, a Miami start-up that is manufacturing wheelchair-accessible cars and taxis.
Johnson headed Obama’s vice presidential selection committee in 2008 and is the former chairman of housing mortgage giant Fannie Mae. He was listed as a campaign fundraising bundler for Obama in the 2008 race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and committed to raising $200,000 to $500,000 for the upcoming presidential race.
Johnson could not be reached for comment Thursday. Perseus Chairman Frank Pearl said in an interview that it is an “absurd idea” to think that Johnson’s political connections helped the Miami company.
“I doubt there was anybody at DOE that even considered the fact that Jim was part of this firm. We went straight through the proper channels of the [loan] program,” he said.