The Associated Press is making an unsupported claim that the Obama administration knew electric automaker Fisker was missing milestones required for its loan guarantee well before it froze the loan in mid-2011 by taking newly obtained documents out of context.
The AP article, published the day of a House hearing on the loan guarantee granted to the troubled company, appears to be based on what a Department of Energy official characterized in an email to Media Matters as “selectively released” documents from Republican politicians leading that hearing.
The article's lede claims that the documents “show that the Obama administration was warned as early as 2010 that electric car maker Fisker Automotive Inc. was not meeting milestones set up for a half-billion dollar government loan, nearly a year before U.S. officials froze the loan.” However, neither of the documents it cites substantiates that claim.
The first document was an internal email speculating that Fisker could miss a milestone that it met five days later, as AP noted six paragraphs in:
Aoife McCarthy, a spokeswoman for the Energy Department, said the June 2010 email was taken out of context.
“The document shows that one person at a meeting discussed the possibility that Fisker might not meet a financial commitment” required by the Energy Department, McCarthy said in an email late Tuesday. DOE received the needed certification five days later and subsequently made the loan payment, she said.
The second document is from April 2010 -- before the loan agreement had even been officially closed -- and thus before milestones had kicked in, as a DOE official explained in an email to Media Matters (emphasis added):
In advance of today's hearing, Committee Republicans have selectively released a few documents that distort and confuse the facts. An Associated Press story, for example, erroneously reports that “the Obama Administration was warned as early as 2010 that electric car maker Fisker Automotive Inc. was not meeting milestones set up for a half-billion-dollar government loan.”
That claim, which is false, is based upon two pieces of evidence presented in the story, both of which are irrelevant and neither or which supports the claim.
1) The story says that a document from April 2010 listed out “milestones that Fisker had not yet met.” Fisker, like all of our projects, had to demonstrate that it was meeting certain milestones in order to receive disbursements from the loan. But since the loan was [not] finalized and closed until April 23, 2010, those milestones hadn't even kicked in yet.
2) The story also quotes an email from June 2, 2010, in which a Department contractor discussed the possibility that Fisker might not meet a financial commitment, which had to be certified as met by the company before a loan disbursement. The Department received that certification five days later, and subsequently disbursed on the loan."