While the sun has set on Solyndra, the solar panel company that received more than $500 million of taxpayer money only to go bankrupt, storm clouds are gathering over the Obama administration and its relationship with the now-defunct company.
Many of you may not know much about Solyndra and that is primarily because most media outlets have remained mum on the subject or are hiding the news. Like the Chicago Tribune, for instance. In its Sept. 14 edition, the unfortunate death of popular Chicago Bears player Brian Urlacher’s mother was the top “news” story. Coverage of House hearings into the bankruptcy of Solyndra and how it got $535 MILLION of taxpayer money was pushed all the way to the bottom of page 20. I guess taxpayers being on the hook for more than one-half a billion dollars is minor compared to the death of a football player’s mom.
Anyway, in March 2009, at the urging of the Obama White House, the Department of Energy loan department approved a $535 million guaranteed loan to Solyndra. Of course, the administration is trying to blame the Bush White House (what new?) because the loan application occurred while Bush was president. The fact is the Energy Department under President Bush DENIED the loan request from Solyndra during the administration’s waning days in early January of 2009. The Bush Energy Department denied the loan because the “company didn’t have good long-term prospects.”
However, that isn’t deterring the Obama Energy Department from rewriting history. Jonathan Silver, who heads the Energy loan program, said, “By the time the Obama administration took office in late January 2009, the loan program’s staff had already established a goal of, and timeline for, issuing the company a conditional loan guarantee commitment in March 2009.”
History, Mr. Silver, proves otherwise. Internal Energy Department e-mails indicate the panel evaluating the loan unanimously decided to shelve Solyndra’s loan application two weeks BEFORE Obama took office. But that didn’t stop a green-driven Obama administration from changing course. Two months later, new Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the government would give Solyndra a $535 million loan, funded with money from the stimulus program passed in February 2009.
History also shows that the Obama White House asked the Energy Department to make a decision on the loan so they could schedule a visit by President Obama to the Solyndra facility to announce the loan. Records also show that Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser was a private backer of the deal and that he raised tens of thousands of dollars in 2008 for President Obama’s presidential campaign. Kaiser made repeated visits to the White House as did Solyndra executives (more than 20 to be exact). Solyndra executives also were telling Democratic members of Congress that Solyndra was a financially strong company that was doing well. They were telling this to the Obama White House and Democratic members of Congress even just weeks before the company shut its doors and filed for bankruptcy.
White House and Energy Department e-mails show the Obama administration was hot to trot over Solyndra. Vice President Biden appeared at the company’s groundbreaking ceremony in 2009 and President Obama showed up May 23, 2010 to tout the company, its green products and the green jobs being created. One month after Obama touted the green jobs being created at Solyndra, the company laid off 100 workers. One cannot make this stuff up.
All of this took place even as administration analysts were skeptical of the company’s claims and business stability. “This deal is NOT (emphasis in original e-mail and not my own) ready for prime time,” one White House budget analyst wrote all the way back on March 10, 2009. A few days before Solyndra’s groundbreaking ceremony in September 2009, a Department of Energy official concluded the company would run out of money by September 2011. Wow, a government analyst actually got a prediction correct!
Unfortunately, no one in the Obama administration seemed to care as it continually pushed the company as a shining light in the green movement and green jobs creation.
Earlier this year when it was evident Solyndra was in trouble, the Energy Department approved another $75 million. While that money came from investors, including the aforementioned Kaiser, the Energy Department agreed to put private investors ahead of taxpayers in recovering any of the funds in case Solyndra failed. According to Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), this violates federal law.
Jeffrey Zients, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, testified that the loan restructuring that the “Department of Energy ultimately provided information and analysis to OMB to show that the loan was in imminent default and that the restructuring proposal was expected to be less costly to taxpayers than other options, including liquidation.”
This means that the investors get their $75 million before taxpayers can recover a dime from Solyndra. And, of course, the company died anyway. So, despite the Bush administration denying the loan request to Solyndra because of the company’s questionable future, the Obama administration went ahead with the loan and now is trying to blame the Bush administration.
Taxpayers lost more than half a billion dollars on this company, and now 1,100 people are out of work. The Obama administration, which received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from those affiliated with Solyndra, continually touted the company as a shining example of the green economy and green jobs even as administration analysts doubted the company’s viability. And the agreement by the Energy Department to allow recent investors to recoup their investment before taxpayers is deemed illegal.
And now the Obama White House is scrambling to approve another 15 loans through the Energy Department before Sept. 30. There is $10 billion still available in the Energy Department loan program that must be used by the end of the month or be re-allocated. Rather than wasting that money, wouldn’t it be better to either save that money or at least use it to help pay for the disaster costs associated with Hurricane Irene? I guess that makes too much sense.
The worst presidency in U.S. history is now embroiled in a developing scandal, with another scandal brewing as well: the Fast and Furious gun-running program with Mexican drug gangs. Anyway, November 2012 can’t come soon enough, nor can January 2013.