A top campaign contributor to former Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.)—the Obama bundler who once registered, then deregistered, and now "never" registered as a lobbyist for Spirit Airlines—won stimulus grants and contracts worth nearly $18.5 million, White House records show.
Florida Turbine Technologies (FTT), an engineering and development firm headquartered in Klein’s district, received a total of $18,459,277 in federal funding as part of the 2009 stimulus package, which Klein supported.
The Jupiter, Fla., company and its top executives were major contributors to Klein’s campaign during his two terms in Congress from 2007 to 2011, according to a database maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics. CEO Shirley Coates Brostmeyer and her husband Joe Brostmeyer, the company’s president, gave a combined $14,200 to Klein’s campaign while he was in office. The FTT political action committee added another $15,000.
When Klein mounted his unsuccessful reelection bid against Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) in 2010, FTT and its employees were the third-largest contributor to Klein’s campaign, giving nearly $20,000.
Shortly after Congress passed the $787 billion stimulus package, Klein’s office prepared a "How-To" guide to the stimulus for constituents. "In the weeks since this bill’s passage, I have worked closely with local elected officials, business leaders, and other members of the community to ensure that South Florida is fully prepared to secure and use its share of the federal funding quickly and efficiently," he wrote.
His district ultimately received hundreds of millions of dollars. The money directed to FTT came in the form of three "clean energy" grants from the Department of Energy totaling $8.1 million, and a Defense Department contract worth $10.4 million for the creation of "adaptive versatile engine technology."
Klein was an avid supporter of President Obama’s "green" agenda. ThinkProgress blogger Brad Johnson named Klein’s matchup with West a "Key 2010 House Climate Race," citing the Democrat’s support for "cap-and-trade" legislation.
Data compiled by Dunn & Bradstreet suggest that the $18.5 million in federal funding was a veritable windfall for FTT. According to D&B, the company employs 200 people and has annual sales of $19.5 million, or roughly the size of its total stimulus award.
"This critical legislation includes targeted spending to create jobs and revitalize the American economy," Klein wrote in 2009. But despite the massive influx of cash, the company created barely any new jobs. According to Recovery.gov, FTT added 2.64 jobs as a result of the funding.
Klein’s role in Democratic politics has come under increased scrutiny since the Washington Free Beacon first reported that the former congressman, who has raised between $200,000 to $500,000 for Obama’s reelection campaign, became a registered lobbyist in January, one year to the day he left office. By accepting the donations, the Obama campaign appeared to violate a promise to refuse any donations from lobbyists.
A lobbying registration document filed with the Senate Office of Public Records on Thursday stated that Klein was "never a lobbyist."