The Obama administration broke its own rules for how stimulus money could be spent. The General Services Administration bought Chinese-made solar panels and installed them on a three-story federal building that houses the local offices of Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (D), Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL), the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The GSA is the agency whose officials were caught on YouTube videos at a Las Vegas junket making light of how easy it was for the GSA to frivolously waste taxpayer dollars without consequences. They purchased and installed the panels even though the contractor questioned the GSA about whether it was legal to use stimulus funds to purchase Chinese-made solar panels.
According to the Washington Times, J.R. Conkey & Associates, the contractor, asked the GSA whether “whether non-ARRA [Recovery Act] compliant solar panels could be used” in Feb. 16, 2010 inquiry.
The inspector general made these revelations in a 2011 memo and said the GSA contracting official “directed Conkey to ‘proceed with the panels specified in the schedule contract since they have already been determined as satisfying all applicable contract clauses including the ARRA Buy American Act requirement.’”
According to the memo, the total cost of the project was $1.8 million and the panels cost $200,000.
“We did what we were told to do by the federal government,” Jim Conkey, the company’s president, said.
Obama administration officials wrote to the inspector general and disagreed with the inspector general’s assessment that “the photovoltaic panels installed were assembled in and shipped from China” and “Under the ARRA, the Chinese panels cannot be purchased with ARRA funds.”
The Obama administration claimed the Trade Agreements Act -- and not the Buy America Act -- applied to the solar power purchases.
The inspector general’s memo takes on more significance because the Obama administration has recently tried to claim that its green energy boondoggles like Solyndra have failed because of unfair competition from China.
But now it turns out the Obama administration was hypocritically buying solar panels from China with taxpayer monies.