WASHINGTON -- Among the well-placed Washington crowd feting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Wednesday is a former lobbyist for Solyndra, the now-defunct solar energy company that Republicans have criticized as emblematic of corruption in the Obama administration.
Romney is holding a fundraiser with nearly two dozen members of Congress on Wednesday, after which he will attend an event at the American Trucking Association with top K Street operatives. The list of attendees revealed by POLITICO includes Alex Mistri, managing director of The Glover Park Group.
Despite working at a predominantly Democratic lobbying firm, Mistri is a reliable GOP donor and Romney supporter. He has donated $2,500 to his presidential bid so far this cycle, on top of the $1,000 he gave to Romney's Free and Strong America PAC. But work he did at Glover Park as a lobbyist for Solyndra seems a touch discordant with the views of many in the Republican Party, who have worked to portray the company's failure as a referendum on alternative energy development and the administration's embrace of it.
In the third quarter of this year, Mistri was one of a group of Glover Park lobbyists Solyndra hired to help with congressional outreach. According to a financial disclosure filing, the purpose of the contract was to introduce company officials to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. For its services, the Glover Park Group was to be paid $20,000, a relatively paltry sum.
But Solyndra went bankrupt before officials there could make the payment, taking along with it the $535 million loan guarantee that it had secured from the Obama administration. And according to a Glover Park official (not Mistri), the firm was forced to eat the bill. By August 19, the lobbying contract was terminated.
"It was limited in scope," said the Glover Park official. "I think it was a series of meetings with the CEO and several members."
"We were advocates, but not accountants," the official added when asked, sarcastically, why Glover Park had been unable to rescue the company.
Glover Park's lobbying on behalf of Solyndra may have been limited by lobbying industry standards. And Mistri's involvement, as one of four officials working on the account, was likewise far from extensive. But it still creates an odd situation for the Romney campaign. Just days ago, the Republican presidential candidate penned an op-ed in which he criticized the Obama administration's handling of the Solyndra loan deal, suggesting strongly that the company had been aided by special interests close to Obama.
The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Solyndra received a $530 billion loan guarantee from the federal government, when it in fact received a $535 million loan guarantee. The error has been corrected.