Solyndra is a so-called “green energy” company in Fremont California that, with the backing of a hefty $535 million loan rushed through the guarantee process by the Obama Administration, planned to manufacture solar panels. Evidence, including a number of administration emails subpoenaed by Congress, shows that the administration rushed the loan through despite warnings that the deal was “not ready for prime time.”
Although the Bush Administration had put Solyndra’s loan application on the back burner, the Obama Administration quickly approved the loan as part of its failed 2009 stimulus program and announced the loan with great fanfare, promising that the company would create thousands of so-called “green jobs.”
The administration also helped line up private investors in the company, including George Kaiser, who was a fundraising bundler for Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign.
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. In the week before the administration awarded Solyndra with the first-ever alternative energy loan guarantee on March 20, four separate visits were logged.
George Kaiser, who has in the past been labeled a major Solyndra investor as well as a Obama donor, made three visits to the White House on March 12, 2009, and one on March 13. Kaiser has denied any direct involvement in the Solyndra deal and through a statement from his foundation said he “did not participate in any discussions with the U.S. government regarding the loan.”
But the countless meetings at the White House seem hardly coincidental. Kaiser, in fact, is responsible for 16 of the 20 meetings that showed up on the White House logs.
Obama himself appeared at the company’s headquarters in May 2010, touting the company as a success story for his failed stimulus even as evidence mounted that it was in financial trouble.
Evidence shows that the administration ignored repeated warnings that the company was in bad financial shape and seemed more concerned about the political ramifications of the company going bankrupt than the taxpayers’ $535 million.
Even as Obama praised the company’s plans to hire more than 1,000 workers, warning signs were being sent from within the government and from outside analysts who questioned Solyndra’s viability as a “going concern.”
At least three reports by federal watchdogs over the past two years warned that the Energy Department had not fully developed the controls needed to manage the multibillion-dollar loan program that provided more the loan to Solyndra Inc., a now-bankrupt solar panel manufacturer.
Emails obtained by The Associated Press show that a White House official dismissed reports about Solyndra’s gloomy future. An email from Greg Nelson, a White House official who had been involved in the planning of Obama’s May 2010 trip to Solyndra’s headquarters, to a Solyndra executive downplayed a July 2010 news story in a trade publication that criticized the company’s financial health.
“Seems B.S.,” Nelson wrote.
A 2009 report by the Energy Department’s inspector general warned that the DOE lacked the necessary quality control for the loan guarantee program, which was created in 2005 to support clean-energy projects that could not obtain conventional bank loans due to high risks.
In July 2010, the Government Accountability Office said the Energy Department had bypassed required steps for funding awards to five of 10 applicants that received conditional loan guarantees.
Obama’s Energy Department may have even tentatively approved another guaranteed loan of $469 million in September 2009.
When the company started having financial problems, the Obama Administration restructured its loan. The $75 million in private investments was made senior debt as part of the January 2011 restructuring, so investors like Kaiser were guaranteed to get their money back before the US Government in the event of a default. This left taxpayers on the hook for most of the risky loan the administration guaranteed.
They were more concerned about the failed President’s reelection prospects and continued to lie publicly about the company to hide the truth from taxpayers.
Emails released Thursday night show that Obama administration privately worried about the effect of a default by Solyndra Inc. on the president’s re-election campaign.
“The optics of a Solyndra default will be bad,” an official from the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a Jan. 31 email to a senior OMB official. “The timing will likely coincide with the 2012 campaign season heating up.”
The email, released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee as part of its investigation into the Solyndra loan, showed that Obama administration officials were concerned about Solyndra’s financial health even as they publicly declared the solar panel maker in good shape.
The company, which had very close ties to the White House and saw members of the administration sitting in on its board meetings, went belly up and declared bankruptcy, firing all of its 1,100 employees, two weeks ago. The company’s headquarters was raided by the FBI on September 8.