A Lowell-based solar technology company that received $1.5 million in state loans when Mitt Romney was governor has filed for bankruptcy, opening the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to charges of hypocrisy.
Konarka Technologies disclosed Friday that it had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and would fire its 80-member staff and liquidate its assets.
Romney has chided President Obama for investing $535 million in a different solar company that failed, and has insisted governments should not pick winners and losers in the private sector. He held a press conference at the Fremont, Calif., headquarters of that company, Solyndra, last Thursday, saying, “Free enterprise to the president means taking money from the taxpayers and giving it freely to his friends.’’
In January 2003, shortly after taking office in Massachusetts, Romney held press conference - at Konarka, where he announced a plan to loan $24 million from the state’s renewable energy trust fund to startups with the potential to create jobs.
“The trust fund has been growing for years,’’ Romney said at the time, “and I believe now is the time to refocus its assets in such a manner that it can become a major economic springboard for the Commonwealth by focusing on job creation in the renewable energy sector.’’
The Obama campaign quickly pounced on the news of Konarka’s bankruptcy.
“Every day we see a new example of Mitt Romney’s hypocrisy,’’ Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said Saturday. “Just one day after he pulled a political stunt outside Solyndra, we learned even more about his record of picking winners and losers in Massachusetts when one of the companies he gave a loan to went bankrupt.’’
On the day of Romney’s visit to Solyndra, Smith defended the president, saying “both Republican and Democratic administrations advanced Solyndra’s application, and the company was widely praised as successful and innovative both before and after receiving the Department of Energy loan guarantee.’’
She could have been describing Konarka. With a Nobel laureate cofounder and promising business plan, Konarka raised more than $170 million in private capital investments and $20 million in government grants, according to its website.
Under the Bush administration, Konarka received a $1.6 million Army contract in 2005 and a $3.6 million award from the Department of Energy in 2007. Under the Obama administration, Konarka was one of 183 clean-energy companies that got a total of $2.3 billion in tax credits as part of the 2009 stimulus. — CALLUM BORCHERS
Bill Clinton sees a Romney presidency as ‘calamitous’
Bill Clinton, the former president, joined President Obama on a major fund-raising push in New York on Monday, telling donors that electing Mitt Romney would be, in his words, “calamitous for our country and the world.’’
Obama and Clinton shared top billing at a trio of events in New York City, bringing in at least $3.6 million to Obama’s reelection campaign.
Obama says the economy will be the central issue of the campaign. He acknowledged that many voters are at that point that “you’re willing to try just about anything, even if you’ve seen it before.’’
Obama campaign bundler and billionaire investor Marc Lasry held an exclusive reception Monday night followed by a gala at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel.
The evening was to conclude with an event dubbed “Barack on Broadway’’ at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Obama will return to Manhattan next week for a fund-raiser at the home of actress Sarah Jessica Parker. — ASSOCIATED PRESS