The House Energy and Commerce Committee released a cache of Solyndra-related emails Thursday, and among them is proof that the Obama White House knew the “green” company was in trouble yet the Department of Energy chose to double down.
According to an ABC News report, the emails show that Office of Management and Budget analyst Kelly Colyar urged that the company be liquidated in January 2011. That would have limited taxpayer losses to $141 million. Colyar warned that any DoE attempt to restructure the government-backed loan to Solyndra could result in far higher losses.
The DoE pressed ahead, ignoring Colyar’s warning, and restructured Solyndra’s loan.Taxpayer losses hit $535 million when Solyndra imploded in September 2011.
An email that Colyar sent in August links the White House directly to knowledge of Solyndra’s demise. “You may recall that DOE announced in March that they had restructured the Solyndra loan,” Colyar wrote in that email. “Prior to this restructuring, OMB staff expressed reservations about the prospects of the company and DOE’s proposal. The issue was discussed with the NEC and the Chief of Staff.”
Bill Daley was Obama’s White House Chief of Staff at the time. He resigned that post in January 2012.
Other emails show that Daley’s predecessor as chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, pushed for the government-backed loan. Emanuel, who is now the mayor of Chicago who has embarrassed himself in the Chick-Fil-A flap, has since claimed not to remember advocating for the Solyndra loan. Obama personally touted the loan with a presidential visit to the company’s lavish California headquarters in May 2010. During his remarks at the company, the president hailed Solyndra as “doing the work of building up America.” He said that Solyndra’s “cutting edge solar panels” were a “testament to American ingenuity,” and he hailed California’s “entrepreneurial spirit.” California has one of the highest tax burdens in the nation and is regularly cited in the business press for its hostility to business concerns. As of June 2011, California had lost 1.2 million jobs in the previous three years, taking its unemployment rate well above the national average.
The administrations “green” loans totalled $60 billion, of which abot $11 billion went to companies run by supporters who had donated to either the president’s campaign or to the Democratic Party.