Kanjo nephew works at firm that gets loan

July 13, 2010

$400M loan a coincidence, says Kanjorski. Election foe says Kanjorskis must just be lucky.

The company that employs the nephew of U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski has received a $400 million guaranteed federal loan.

Select images available for purchase in the
Times Leader Photo StoreThe same company, formerly called AVA Solar and now known as Abound Solar Manufacturing, received a $3 million federal grant in 2008.

The two federal awards and the Kanjorskis’ relationship have been called “coincidental” by the company. The Kanjorski campaign said the congressman played no role.

Lou Barletta, the Republican challenger to Kanjorski in the 11th Congressional District race, said, “I guess the Kanjorskis are just lucky.”

Russell Kanjorski – the congressman’s nephew — is vice president for marketing at Abound Solar, which is based in Loveland, Colo.

During his weekly address to the nation over the Fourth of July weekend, President Barack Obama announced that the Department of Energy was awarding $2 billion in loan guarantees to two energy companies — Abengoa Solar and Abound Solar Manufacturing. The purpose of the loans is to increase solar panel production that is expected to create more than 1,200 jobs.

Russell Kanjorski was one of the principals in Cornerstone Technologies LLC, which received $9 million in federal grants before it filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2003.

A story in The Times Leader reported, “Cornerstone reported $14,100 in assets compared with $1.34 million in debt” in its bankruptcy filing. The $9 million in federal grants to Cornerstone were earmarked by Congressman Kanjorski, chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises.

According to the Abound Solar website, Russell Kanjorski joined the company in July 2007 and has almost 20 years of experience from multiple industries through his strategy consulting, finance and legal background. The company produces thin-film solar modules suited for large- and utility-scale commercial installations.

“Congressman Kanjorski had nothing to do with the assigning of these government loan guarantees to either of the recipient companies,” said Ed Mitchell, Kanjorski’s campaign spokesman. “They are not earmarks and are part of the president’s stimulus program for job creation. The awards were made by the administration with no congressional involvement.”

Mitchell said Kanjorski did not write a letter in support of the loan.

“He had nothing to do with the application process,” Mitchell said. “Our statement says there was no congressional involvement in the president’s announcement, to our knowledge.”

Barletta found that difficult to believe.

“Only the federal government would give $400 million to a guy who already lost $10 million in taxpayers’ money the government gave him for another business that went bankrupt,” Barletta said. “Wherever they go, federal money follows.”

Mark Chen, spokesman for Abound Solar, said Congressman Kanjorski had no role in the process.

“He was not involved with the securing of the initial commitment of the loan guarantee,” Chen said. “The company has received DOE grants in the past – including the $3 million in 2008 – but the decision on that was made before Russ Kanjorski worked here or even applied for a job. It was purely coincidental.”

A story that appeared in the Denver Post in October 2009 said the privately held Abound Solar “used $150 million in venture capital to get the first of three production lines going at its Longmont (Colo.) factory, which opened in April.”

Russell Kanjorski was attributed in the story stating that “additional capital will have to be generated or raised to build the other lines.”

The Denver Post story said the solar panel industry “faces oversupply, falling prices, a credit freeze, a recession, subsidy cuts in key European markets and rising Chinese competition.”

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