Pennsylvania Republican Got Solar Panel Money From Biden Bill He Opposed – HuffPost

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Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023.
Tom Williams via Getty Images

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), an outspoken critic of President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, used the law to receive a grant to install solar panels at one of his car dealership locations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave a Uniontown dealership owned by Mike Kelly Automotive Group a nearly $315,000 grant to install a 261.9-kilowatt solar panel array, according to the Erie Times-News, the local news outlet that first reported the grant on Monday. The grant is set to save the firm $23,700 per year in energy costs, according to the USDA.

The USDA distributed the grant through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The program has existed since 2018, but the Inflation Reduction Act injected an additional $1 billion into the program dramatically expanding its scope. The federal government then announced that it would distribute that money in grants to rural businesses over the course of 2023 and 2024.

In his official statement following the bill’s passage, Kelly derided the legislation that made those grants possible as the “so-called Inflation Reduction Act,” charging that it was “loaded with bad policy and wasteful spending that will ultimately worsen inflation, expand government, and hurt the middle-class.”

His office singled out the bill’s climate provisions as damaging in bullet points accompanying the statement. “The bill provides $375 billion in so-called ‘climate change’ legislation, which include $7,500 tax credits for wealthy Americans to purchase electric vehicles (EV),” his office said.

Asked how the grant squares with Kelly’s opposition to the IRA, Kelly spokesperson Matt Knoedler referred HuffPost to the statement he provided the Erie Times-News.

“Representative Kelly’s energy policy has always supported an all-of-the-above approach,” Knoedler said. “Additionally, Rep. Kelly does not have an active role in the day-to-day operations of his family’s business.”

In his 2022 financial disclosure, Kelly reported an ownership stake in Mike Kelly Automotive Group worth between $50,001 and $100,000, and a salary from the company of just under $30,000. Kelly also reported a “note receivable” from the company worth between $500,001 and $1 million.

Mike Kelly Toyota, the dealership that got the grant, is located in GOP Rep. Guy Reschenthaler’s district south of the Erie-area seat that Kelly represents.

Preston Nouri, Kelly's Democratic challenger, is calling on him to return the grant money.

Preston Nouri, Kelly’s Democratic challenger, is calling on him to return the grant money.
Preston Nouri for Congress

Kelly has represented Pennsylvania’s northwestern corner since 2011 and has not faced a close re-election battle since 2018. Former President Donald Trump carried Kelly’s current district, Pennsylvania’s 16th, by nearly 21 percentage points in 2020.

This year, Preston Nouri, a 25-year-old legislative analyst for the Department of Defense, is the Democratic nominee to take on Kelly.

Nouri called on Kelly to return the money his family’s business received. “Mike Kelly shows his true colors once again,” Nouri said in a statement. “For over 13 years, he keeps getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar, taking taxpayer money to enrich himself while working against the interests of the people he’s supposed to represent.”

Kelly already underwent scrutiny for opposing student debt cancellation after accepting nearly $1 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans during the COVID-19 pandemic that were forgiven. “PPP loans are designed to be forgiven,” Kelly posted on X in August 2022. “Student loans are not. Big difference!”

Kelly is also a staunch Trump ally who has advocated for the rights of people arrested during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. During a general election debate in 2022, he condemned the alleged mistreatment of Jan. 6 defendants, asking, “Is this America?”

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