Solar company found to have ‘reaped billions’ from top Biden law leads to outcry: ‘Appeasing the rich’

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Reaction came swiftly after a bombshell report that one of the largest solar companies that had donated millions to Democrats “reaped billions” from one of President Biden’s signature policies.

First Solar executives donated at least $2 million to Democrats in the 2020 cycle, with a majority of that amount going to Biden’s presidential campaign, according to the Associated Press.

The company, the largest manufacturer of solar panels in the U.S., was “perhaps the biggest beneficiary” from $1 billion in Inflation Reduction Act spending geared toward environmental concerns.

Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, called the report “revealing on so many levels.”

“It shows just how deeply embedded the renewables industry is with the Democratic political machine, how dependent solar is on government handouts, and how the self-described ‘monumental’ climate bill is nothing more than a political payoff for President Biden’s biggest corporate donors,” Pyle said. 

“Meanwhile, taxpayers get stuck with the bill, ratepayers get to pay even more for their electricity, and environmental treasures like hundred-year-old Joshua trees get mowed down to make room for the solar panels.”

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., the top Republican on the Senate Energy & Commerce Committee, also slammed the news, saying First Solar investors are enriching themselves through their political connections.

“President Biden is happy to throw billions of dollars in tax credits at a company that has forced people in foreign countries to work under slave-like conditions. Subsidizing First Solar is another blatant example of Democrats putting their wealthy donors ahead of the American people,” Barrasso said.

In the House’s equivalent committee, Rep. John James, R-Mich., said Americans should not be surprised.

“Since day one, Biden’s energy policies have been great for his wealthy liberal elite donors and devastating for everyday Michiganders and Americans,” James said. “Biden has appeased the rich, while he steals from the working class to usher in his Green New Deal agenda that is being forced on the American people by his anarcho-climate activist friends.”


While First Solar did not respond to requests for comment, CEO Mark Widmar nodded to the company’s larger U.S. footprint than other solar panel makers tied to rival nations, in remarks to the AP:

“Unlike others who routinely spend substantially more lobbying on behalf of Chinese companies that circumvent US laws and deepen strategic vulnerabilities, our interests lie in a diverse, competitive domestic solar manufacturing base supporting American jobs, economic value, and energy security,” Widmar said. 

The company has two factories in Ohio with two more elsewhere in the country on the way, according to congressional testimony from fellow executive Samantha Sloan.

First Solar stock nearly doubled in the time since the Inflation Reduction Act passed in August 2022, and two company officials reportedly attended a celebration of the law’s passage in September of that year.

At the event, Sloan called the law “one of the most consequential pieces of legislation of our lifetimes.”

One First Solar investor was reportedly added to Forbes’ 2023 billionaires list through his minority stake in the company.

Farhad Ebrahimi, co-founder of Quark and a Democratic donor, reportedly rode his 5% investment into the lucrative catalog.

A review of other political donation records for several top executives depicts somewhat more Democratic but overall bipartisan contributions.


Outside of thousands in donations to a First Solar PAC, Sloan offered a small 2022 contribution to Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio.

In 2017, Widmar gave $3,000 to former Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, according to the records, as well as thousands to Biden’s 2020 bid, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Kaptur and former Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

Small donations were also made to Sen. John Hickenlooper’s, D-Colo., and former Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s past campaigns.

First Solar executives were also reportedly privy to meetings with officials like White House clean energy adviser John Podesta at the same time.

Asked about the matter, a White House spokesperson told the AP Biden led and delivered the “most ambitious climate agenda in history, restoring America’s climate leadership at home and abroad.”

“The White House regularly engages with industry leaders across all sectors, including clean energy manufacturers and gas and oil producers,” Angelo Fernandez Hernandez said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.