By Boston Business Journal

A Boston firm that was one of the lead private investors in Solyndra reportedly used its seat on a Pentagon technology panel to promote the now-bankrupt solar company for a U.S. Navy contract.

RockPort Capital Partners was the fourth largest investor in Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy protection in September. The cleantech-focused, Boston firm had invested $47.5 million in Solyndra, which reportedly received over $1 billion in capital, including a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.

According to a report in Friday morning's Wall Street Journal, RockPort was instrumental in Solyndra's efforts to secure a lucrative Navy contract. RockPort principal Kevin Kopczynski sits on a panel that advises the Pentagon on emerging technology. Solyndra's bid fell apart when news of its bankruptcy broke.

The Boston Business Journal has reported on RockPort's role with Solyndra since early September, when news of RockPort's troubles surfaced. The Fremont, Calif. company ran into problems competing on cost in manufacturing solar panels, precipitating what may be the largest venture capital bust in history, and drew national media scrutiny because of the federal government's role in supporting Solyndra.

RockPort's close relationship with the government was newly discovered in emails released as part of a congressional probe. According to the Journal report, Kopczynski said he made proper disclosures to the panel, called the Defense Venture Catalyst Initiative, or DeVenCi, of his firm's interest in Solyndra. Kopczynski is one of about 26 venture capital investors on the panel, which was formed by then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, after Sept. 11, 2001.

RockPort managing general partner David Prend, who holds a seat on Solyndra's board of directors, did not return a request for comment, Friday.

According to the Journal, Kopczynski's recommendation to the panel came early this year, as Solyndra was in financial straits. At the time, Solyndra was negotiating a $75 million bridge loan from RockPort and other investors, that would keep it afloat. As part of the terms of that loan, RockPort was given preference over the U.S. government in the event of a liquidation, the Journal reported.

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