The Michigan-based Mackinac Center reports that in February, "A123's Compensation Committee approved a $30,000 raise for (Chief Financial Officer David) Prystash just days after (its primary customer) Fisker Automotive announced the U.S. Energy Department had cut off what was left of its $528.7 million loan it had previously received."
Prystash's hike was 8.5 percent, taking his base salary from $350,000 to $380,000. One A123 vice president, Robert Johnson, received a 20.7 percent pay increase that saw his salary grow from $331,250 to $400,000. Another vice president, Jason Forcier, vice president of the automotive solutions group, climbed from a $331,250 base salary to $350,000.
Analyst Paul Chesser of the D.C.-based National Legal and Policy Center raises pointed questions about the timing of the pay raises: "Were their actions intended as greater protection for their executives in the case of a sale or bankruptcy of the company?" Inquiring House GOP investigators looking into the Obama Department of Energy's big green boondoggles should want to know.
And taxpayers should want to know more about the cozy ties between A123 and the White House and Democratic politicians. A123 Systems CEO David Vieau showered Barack Obama, the Democratic National Committee and key Democrats on Capitol Hill with nearly $17,000 before receiving the stimulus injection. A123 enviro-boodle also flowed to Mass. Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Ed Markey. Betting on "smart grid" cronyism has been a bonanza for the well-connected -- and a big, bad bet for taxpayers.