A former Department of Energy official who directed millions of dollars in grants to NRG Energy while Democratic Senate hopeful Katie McGinty sat on the company’s board held a fundraiser for her campaign on Thursday night.
Jonathan Silver, who was executive director of the Energy Department’s loan programs office tasked with directing billions of dollars to alternative energy companies, was listed as the host for the Thursday night fundraiser in Washington, D.C. to support McGinty’s Pennsylvania campaign.
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Silver was "responsible for the agency’s strategic direction" and oversaw "all of its transactions," according to the department website. He held the position from November 2009 to October 2011 and became best known for the $535 million that was directed toward failed solar energy company Solyndra.
McGinty’s NRG Energy also received money from the department during Silver’s tenure. The company was awarded two Energy Department loans worth over $331 million in fiscal 2010 alone. Most of the money was used to extend a "clean coal power initiative," but $2 million was also awarded for renewable energy research and development.
McGinty joined NRG’s board of directors shortly after she resigned as head of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection in 2008. She made over $1.1 million during her five years with the company.
The Energy Department gave $1.6 billion in early 2011 to the Ivanpah Solar Plant, a California project partially owned by NRG that may end up as another Solyndra. The Wall Street Journal reported in March that the project may shut down because it has failed to produce the amount of electricity it was supposed to.
The unconventional project "uses 170,000 mirrors to reflect sunlight to 450-foot-high towers topped by boilers that heat up to create steam, which in turn is used to generate electricity." The project has burned thousands of birds to death, drawing the ire of environmentalists.
The D.C. fundraiser comes as McGinty receives national attention after Buzzfeed reported that she lied about being the first person in her family to go to college. McGinty's older brother had already received a master's degree by the time she enrolled at St. Joseph's University.
Her Republican opponent, Sen. Pat Toomey, released a video slamming her for misleading Pennsylvanians about her biography. It calls attention to numerous instances where McGinty repeated the lie.
The McGinty campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the fundraiser.