Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mike Reynolds: Tax Credits Went To Solyndra?

From The House Media Division ~ Even as the FBI investigates the now-bankrupt Solyndra, Rep. Mike Reynolds is concerned Oklahoma tax credits may have benefited the controversial failed solar-power company, based on state records.            

Touted by the Obama administration as a model of green energy enterprise, California-based Solyndra was a high-profile recipient of a $539 million federal loan guarantee.

Today, only two years after its start-up, the company is the center of law-enforcement scrutiny, ethics concerns and congressional oversight demands.

Reynolds noted that Argonaut Ventures (identified as Oklahoman George Kaiser’s firm by ABC News), has been named as the largest shareholder in Solyndra in news reports. At the same time, Kaiser is a recipient of state tax credits in Oklahoma.

Public records show Kaiser received nearly $30 million in tax credits in 2007 and 2008 for venture capital investment.

Unfortunately, lawmakers cannot learn what specific ventures benefited from those tax policies.

An examination of reports about venture capital tax credit usage from the Oklahoma Tax Commission reveals a business entity with a name similar to Argonaut Ventures. Reynolds said it is reasonable to question whether tax credits available to that entity were somehow involved in the transactions with Solyndra.

“There is very little transparency in the oversight of state tax credit programs and, as a result, we cannot learn all specific investments supported by those tax credits; we can only learn who received the tax credit,” said Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City. “However, since Argonaut Ventures has been identified as a major investor in Solyndra, it is fair to ask if any Oklahoma tax credits were used to support Solyndra either directly or indirectly. Oklahoma taxpayers have the right to know if their money was used to support an out-of-state business that is now the center of legal and ethical concerns.”            

Members of the Task Force on State Tax Credits and Economic Incentives have been reviewing Oklahoma’s tax credit programs this summer to determine if they need to be revised or even abolished.

The group recently learned that millions of dollars in investments supported by Oklahoma tax credits have benefited out-of-state companies in spite of the fact that the programs were meant to fund job creation in Oklahoma.            

Task force members have also been troubled by the lack of transparency in many programs, noting companies receiving millions in tax credits do not have to provide significant information on those transactions to the taxpayers who fund them.

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