by William Teach | September 14, 2011 8:33 am
Some are wondering whether the Solyndra scandal will bring the White House down. I have to say, unless some emails are found that specifically show that Obama knew that there was no possible way that Solyndra would ever be able to compete, and still pushed the loan, the best that will happen will be a scandal which the media is reluctantly dragged along in covering, and, if the GOP is smart, will show up in campaign commercials and talking points
The Obama White House tried to rush federal reviewers for a decision on a nearly half-billion-dollar loan to the solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra so Vice President Biden could announce the approval at a September 2009 groundbreaking for the company’s factory, newly obtained e-mails show.
The Silicon Valley company, a centerpiece in President Obama’s initiative to develop clean energy technologies, had been tentatively approved for the loan by the Energy Department but was awaiting a final financial review by the Office of Management and Budget.
The August 2009 e-mails, released to The Washington Post, show White House officials repeatedly asking OMB reviewers when they would be able to decide on the federal loan and noting a looming press event at which they planned to announce the deal. In response, OMB officials expressed concern that they were being rushed to approve the company’s project without adequate time to assess the risk to taxpayers, according to information provided by Republican congressional investigators.
Solyndra collapsed two weeks ago, leaving taxpayers liable for the $535 million loan.
Ye Olde White House states that they were just interested in when the decision would be made, but wasn’t trying to pressure the OMB.
The e-mail exchanges could intensify questions about whether the administration was playing favorites and made costly errors while choosing the first recipient of a loan guarantee under its stimulus program. Solyndra’s biggest investors were funds operated on behalf of the family foundation of Tulsa billionaire and Obama fundraiser George Kaiser. Although he has been a frequent White House visitor, Kaiser has said he did not use political influence to win approval of the loan.
The White House has previously said that it had no involvement in the Solyndra loan application and that all decisions were made by career officials based on the merits of the company.
Of course they were playing favorites, this is politics, after all. But, playing favorites with $535 million in taxpayer money when they knew Solyndra was a disaster waiting to happen is quite different from push small projects towards donors.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), chairman of that panel’s oversight and investigations subcommittee, said last week that the FBI raid confirmed their belief that the “darling” of Obama’s green-jobs program was a “bad bet” from the beginning.
“Solyndra was the hallmark of the President’s green jobs program and widely promoted by the administration as a stimulus success story, right up until its bankruptcy and FBI raid,” Upton and Stearns said in a statement on Tuesday. “Let’s learn the lessons of Solyndra before another dollar goes out the door.”
The downside to this is that we can use more alternative energy sources and research, as there is nothing wrong with looking for other sources of energy, but, what happened with Solyndra will harm the companies who are doing good work, and have potential, in the alternative energy sector. These companies will have a tough time finding private investors, who will be wary of dumping their money into these ventures.
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