A solar energy company owned by a Biden megadonor received a $500 million government loan to build a manufacturing facility in India, the Biden administration announced this week, raising questions about whether the company’s political clout played any role in the financing decision.
The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation granted the loan to First Solar, which is owned by billionaire Walmart heir Lukas Walton, to build a solar module plant in India. Walton contributed over $300,000 to President Joe Biden’s campaign last year, and over $100,000 to the Democratic National Committee, according to campaign finance records.
The loan to First Solar is the “largest single debt financing transaction” issued by the DFC, the agency announced this week. The DFC said the investment in the India project will “promote DFC’s commitment to diversifying supply chains,” following demands from lawmakers that the agency avoid funding any solar projects connected to forced labor in China.
Ethics watchdogs said the loan raises questions about whether First Solar’s political connections played a role in the DFC’s decision. The federal financing agency, which was formerly known as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, has faced criticism in the past for funding projects linked to political donors. The loan also comes nine years after the Obama administration came under fire for approving $3 billion in loan guarantees to the same company—funding that Republican lawmakers alleged the company wasn’t qualified to receive.