Research

Pleading The 5th

The Obama Adminstration Has Been Avoiding Questions On Solyndra, But The American People Financed This Disaster And Deserve Answers

HAS OBAMA BEEN BRIEFED ON THE SOLYNDRA SCANDAL IN THE PAST WEEK? IF NOT, WHY NOT? 

Jay Carney: Obama Hasn’t Been Briefed On Solyndra, Because “There’s Not A Lot To Brief Him About.” “President Obama hasn’t been briefed about the questions raised over Solyndra’s loan, Carney said. ‘I think he’s probably read some news accounts of it,’ he said. ‘There’s not a lot to brief him about.’”(Matt Negrin, “Carney: No Solyndra Briefing,” Politico, 9/15/11)

DID ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS SEE SOLYNDRA’S IMPENDING DEMISE WHILE THEY WERE SITTING IN ON BOARD MEETINGS? IF SO, DID THEY DO ANYTHING TO TRY TO PROTECT TAXPAYERS’ INTERESTS?

With Its Observer Status At Board Meetings, Obama’s Energy Department May Have Known The Troubled State Of Solyndra’s Finances And Kept Quiet. “As part of the restructuring, DOE started sending a representative to sit in on board meetings of Solyndra, ABC and iWatch News reported.  ‘As one of the conditions for agreeing to approve the restructuring of the loan, the Department gained observer status on the Solyndra board,’ LaVera wrote in response to questions last week. Beyond confirming its ‘observer status,’ Energy Department officials did not answer questions about how many meetings officials attended, what they learned – and what they did about it. Still, the status is significant. It means that, in the months leading to Solyndra’s implosion, the Energy Department paid particularly close interest. If it saw problems privately, it was not sharing them publicly.” (Ronnie Greene, “Recurring Red Flags Failed To Slow Obama Administration’s Race To Help Solyndra,” iWatch News9/13/11)

  • “Obama Officials Sat In On Solyndra Meetings.” (Ronnie Greene And Matthew Mosk, “Obama Officials Sat In On Solyndra Meetings,” iWatch And ABC News9/9/11)
  • Obama Officials Have Had “An Up Close View As The Solar Energy Company Careened Towards Bankruptcy.” “Officials from the Department of Energy have for months been sitting in on board meetings as ‘observers’ at Solyndra, getting an up-close view as the solar energy company careened towards bankruptcy after spending more than $500 million in federal loan money.” (Ronnie Greene And Matthew Mosk, “Obama Officials Sat In On Solyndra Meetings,” iWatch And ABC News9/9/11)
  • The “Unusual Arrangement” Came To Light As The FBI Converged On Solyndra’s Headquarters. “Word of the Energy Department’s unusual arrangement came as federal agents on Thursday converged on the California headquarters of the failed solar company, focusing fresh attention on the first corporate beneficiary of President Obama’s stimulus program to create new clean energy jobs.” (Ronnie Greene And Matthew Mosk, “Obama Officials Sat In On Solyndra Meetings,” iWatch And ABC News9/9/11)

WHO DECIDED TO IGNORE OMB’S RESERVATIONS IN 2009?

An OMB Official Asked The White House To “Postpone” The Solyndra Loan So That There Could Be A “Full Review” Of The Guarantee.  “’I would prefer that this announcement be postponed,’ the OMB official replied. ’This is the first loan guarantee and we should have full review with all hands on deck to make sure we get it right.’” (Kevin Freking, “Officials Hope To Approve More Loan Guarantees,” The Associated Press9/15/11)

White House Chief Of Staff Office Tried To “Speed Along” The OMB Review. “In one e-mail, an assistant to Rahm Emanuel, then White House chief of staff, wrote on Aug. 31, 2009, to OMB about the upcoming Biden announcement on Solyndra and asked whether ‘there is anything we can help speed along on OMB side.’”(Joe Stephens and Carol D. Leonnig, “White House Pressed On $500 Million Loan To Solar Company Now Under Investigation,” The Washington Post, 9/13/11)

  • Solyndra’s Review Took Nine Days; The Average OMB Review Takes 28 Days. “The Office of Management and Budget’s average review time for loan-guarantee projects after Sept. 1, 2009, was 28 days, and the review of Solyndra’s proposal, from the Energy Department’s first presentation to OMB, was nine days, according to the committee’s report.” (Jim Snyder, “Obama Aides Pushed For Solyndra Decision,” Bloomberg9/14/11)

“Obama’s Energy Department Pressed Forth In The Face Of Abundant Red Flags In Awarding Its Maiden Green Energy Financing.” “An iWatch News dissection of the financing – based on records, interviews and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act – shows that Obama’s Energy Department pressed forth in the face of abundant red flags in awarding its maiden green energy financing. Money approved – even as outside rating agencies assessed the company as speculative.” (Ronnie Greene, “Recurring Red Flags Failed To Slow Obama Administration’s Race To Help Solyndra,” iWatch News9/13/11)

IF THE ADMINISTRATION WAS CONFIDENT IN SOLYNDRA, WHY WAS THE COMPANY’S SECOND LOAN REQUEST DENIED?

Solyndra Asked For A Larger Loan In Summer 2010. “But the sprint to survive left it with little cash, and by summer 2010, bankruptcy loomed. Solyndra asked DOE for a larger loan and was declined. “(Saqib Rahim And Peter Behr, “How Well Did DOE Know Solyndra’s Technology – And Its Market Vulnerabilities?” The New York Times, 9/15/11)

  • Solyndra Filed For A Second Federal Loan Guarantee Valued At $469 Million. “Failed solar panel maker Solyndra’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings show that seven months after the Obama administration’s Department of Energy approved a $535 million federal loan guarantee, Solyndra applied for a second one valued at $469 million.” (Matthew Boyle, “Documents Show Solyndra Sought Second Government Loan Guarantee For $469 Million,” The Daily Caller, 9/16/11)
  • The Additional Loan Would Cover The Second Phase Of Construction On Solyndra’s New Panel Manufacturing Facility. “Solyndra applied for that extra $469 million the same year it received the $535 million of ultimately wasted taxpayer money which is the subject of a current congressional investigation. According to the company’s SEC filings, that $535 million was only intended to cover Phase I of the construction of its ‘Fab 2’ solar panel manufacturing facility.” (Matthew Boyle, “Documents Show Solyndra Sought Second Government Loan Guarantee For $469 Million,” The Daily Caller, 9/16/11)

WHO DECIDED IT WOULD BE IN THE TAXPAYERS’ BEST INTEREST TO RESTRUCTURE THE LOAN AFTER THE OMB SAID IT WOULD BE “THROWING GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD?”

January 2011: Federal Reviewers Said It Would Be “Far Cheaper” To Not Restructure The Loan. “New records obtained by The Washington Post show that some federal reviewers warned internally earlier this year that it would be far cheaper for the government to allow Solyndra to shut down and sell off its assets, rather than to restructure the deal and bet on the company recovering.” (Carol D. Leonning And Joe Stephens, “Lawmakers Question Solyndra Loan Decision,” The Washington Post, 9/14/11)

  • “A Preliminary Estimate By The Office Of Management And Budget In January Showed That Restructuring Solyndra Could Cost Taxpayers Up To $168 Million More Than Liquidation.” (Carol D. Leonning And Joe Stephens, “Lawmakers Question Solyndra Loan Decision,” The Washington Post, 9/14/11)

OMB Staffers Warned That Restructuring Solyndra’s Loan Would Be “Throwing Good Money After Bad.” “OMB staff members had warned that the Energy Department’s restructuring of Solyndra’s loan might be throwing good money after bad, other e-mails show, and could cost taxpayers $168 million more than if Solyndra had liquidated in January.” (Carol D. Leonnig & Joe Stephens, “Obama Administration Emails: Giving More Taxpayer Money To Solyndra Was Risky,” The Washington Post, 9/15/11)

WHY DID THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION AGREE TO PUT PRIVATE INVESTORS – INCLUDING AN OBAMA DONOR & BUNDLER – AHEAD OF TAXPAYERS DURING RESTRUCTURING? 

Taxpayers Will Not Be The First To Recoup Monies From Solyndra; Investors Will Be The First To Receive Funds From Bankruptcy. “Here’s more music they can dance to:  Sources tell me the Obama administration restructured the loan this winter, so taxpayers probably won’t even be the first creditors to get paid after Solyndra files for bankruptcy next week.” (Michael Grunwald, “Big Name Investors Behind Obama’s Failed Green Tech Bet First In Line To Recoup Losses,” Time’s Swampland,” 9/3/11)

  • The First $75 Million Will Go To Two Investors, Including “Billionaire George Kaiser, An Obama Campaign Bundler.” “The first $75 million will go to two Solyndra investors who poured in extra cash when the company nearly went bust in January.  And one of them is a venture associated with the billionaire George Kaiser, an Obama campaign bundler.” (Michael Grunwald, “Big Name Investors Behind Obama’s Failed Green Tech Bet First In Line To Recoup Losses,” Time’s Swampland,” 9/3/11)
  • George Kaiser’s Argonaut Ventures Are The “Single Largest Shareholder Of Solyndra.” “Kaiser’s Argonaut Ventures and its affiliates have been the single largest shareholder of Solyndra, according to SEC filings and other records. The company holds 39 percent of Solyndra’s parent company, bankruptcy records filed Tuesday show.” (Ronnie Greene And Matthew Mosk, “Obama Officials Sat In On Solyndra Meetings,” iWatch And ABC News9/9/11)

WHAT OTHER FIRMS WHO RECEIVED LOAN GUARANTEES WERE NOT PROPERLY VETTED?

 Energy Experts Are Warning Other Loan Guarantees May Be In Trouble. “The same market forces that doomed Solyndra, the solar cell manufacturer that received $528 million in government loans and then went bankrupt, could imperil other manufacturing ventures that have received loan guarantees from the Energy Department, energy experts warned this week.” (Matthew L. Wald, “Market Risks Are Seen In Energy Innovations,” The New York Times9/15/11)

Solyndra Was One Of Five Companies The Energy Department Failed To Properly Assess, Leaving The GAO “Greatly Concerned.” “Government auditors are questioning whether the administration may have made other bad bets on clean energy. Frank Rusco, a Government Accountability Office director who helped lead a review of the Solyndra loan and the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program, said GAO remains ‘greatly concerned’ by its 2010 finding that the agency agreed to back with loans five companies without properly assessing their failure risks. The companies were not identified in the report, but the agency has since acknowledged that Solyndra was one.” (Carol Leonnig, “After Solyndra Failure, Auditors Wonder What Other Bad Bets Obama Officials MadeThe Washington Post, 9/1/11)

Congressional Auditors Also Found That Obama’s Energy Department Gave “Favorable Treatment” To Five Firms, Including Solyndra.  “A few weeks later, congressional auditors announced that Energy Department had given favorable treatment to some loan-guarantee applicants. A Government Accountability Office report found that the department had bypassed required steps for funding awards to five applicants, including Solyndra.” (Carol D. Leoning, Joe Stephens, and Alice Crites, “Obama’s Focus On Visiting Clean-Tech Compaines Raises Questions,” The Washington Post, 6/25/11)

WHAT WAS DISCUSSED DURING SOLYNDRA’S WHITE HOUSE MEETINGS?

Tulsa Billionaire George Kaiser, A Big Obama Donor And Solyndra Investor, “Repeatedly Visited The White House.” “A key question is whether Solyndra’s political connections were a factor. A big Obama donor associated with the venture, identified by the Post as Tulsa billionaire George Kaiser, repeatedly visited the White House. He has denied using his influence to win approval of the loan.” (Martin Wolk, “White House Ignored Red Flags In Loan To Failed Solar Company,” MSNBC’s “The Bottom Line,” 9/14/11) 

  • “Kaiser Made 16 Visits To The President’s Aides Since 2009, According To White House Visitor Logs.” (Jim Snyder, “FBI Raids Bankrupt Solyndra as Lawmakers Question Panel Maker’s Finances,” Bloomberg9/9/11)
  • Kaiser Met With White House’s Advisors The Same Month The Energy Department Gave Solyndra The Loan Guarantee. “His first recorded visit to the White House was March 12, 2009, when he met separately with Austan Goolsbee, a senior economic adviser to Obama, Pete Rouse, a senior adviser to the president, and Heather Higginbottom, deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council. The next day he met with Jason Furman, a member of Obama’s National Economic Council.  That month, the Energy Department awarded Solyndra the $535 million loan guarantee to commercialize its cylindrical solar panels.” (Jim Snyder, “FBI Raids Bankrupt Solyndra as Lawmakers Question Panel Maker’s Finances,” Bloomberg9/9/11)
  • Kaiser Has Also Met With Valerie Jarrett, And Former Obama Chief Of Staff Rahm Emanuel. “In June, Kaiser met with senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, policy adviser David Pope and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. His most recent meeting covered by the White House logs was on April 11 of this year, with Rouse.” (Jim Snyder, “FBI Raids Bankrupt Solyndra as Lawmakers Question Panel Maker’s Finances,” Bloomberg9/9/11)

“Christian Gronet, The Chairman Of Solyndra, Met With Greg Nelson, From The White House Office Of Public Engagement On Sept. 22, 2009.” (Jim Snyder, “FBI Raids Bankrupt Solyndra as Lawmakers Question Panel Maker’s Finances,” Bloomberg9/9/11)

Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison Met With Obama On December 7, 2010. (Visitor Access Records, The White House, Accessed 9/9/11) 

“According To White House Visitor Logs, Between March 12, 2009, And April 14, 2011, Solyndra Officials And Investors Made No Fewer Than 20 Trips To The West Wing.” (Amanda Carey, “Solyndra Officials Made Numerous Trips To The White House, Logs Show,” The Daily Caller, 9/8/11)

  • Including Four Separate Visits The Week Before Receiving Their Loan Guarantee. “In the week before the administration awarded Solyndra with the first-ever alternative energy loan guarantee on March 20, four separate visits were logged.” (Amanda Carey, “Solyndra Officials Made Numerous Trips To The White House, Logs Show,” The Daily Caller, 9/8/11)

September 29, 2009, Andy Davis, An Employee Of Solyndra’s Lobbying Firm McBee Strategic Consulting, Met With Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant To The President For Energy And Climate Change. (Change.gov, “President-Elect Barack Obama Announces Key Members Of Energy And Environment Team,”Press Release, 12/15/08; Center For Responsive Politics, opensecrets.org, Accessed 9/15/11; White House Visitor Access Records, whitehouse.gov, Accessed 9/15/11)

Lobbyist Chris Fish Attempted Unsuccessfully To Get Solyndra Execs A Meeting With Carol Browner To Talk About Putting Solar Panels On Government Buildings. “Solyndra LLC, the failed company that House Republicans said may have benefited from White House political connections, unsuccessfully sought a meeting with environment chief Carol Browner to argue for the use of solar panels on government buildings, e-mails show. Chris Fish, a lobbyist with McAllister & Quinn LLC in Washington, wrote the White House Energy and Climate Change office on July 12, 2010, to request a meeting between Solyndra executives and Browner, who was director of the office, according to e-mails the White House turned over to House investigators for the Energy and Commerce Committee.” (Jim Snyder, “Solyndra Lobbied White House For Solar Panels On US Buildings,” Bloomberg9/16/11)

  • The White House Tried To Schedule A Meeting With Solyndra Execs And Browner’s Deputies. “While White House officials initially suggested a meeting with Browner’s deputies, climate-office official Stephen Moilanen wrote back on July 20, rejecting the request.” (Jim Snyder, “Solyndra Lobbied White House For Solar Panels On US Buildings,” Bloomberg9/16/11)