We need a siren or flaming skull for this one. It’s huge.
The Obama administration urged officers of the struggling solar company Solyndra to postpone announcing planned layoffs until after the November 2010 midterm elections, newly released e-mails show.
Solyndra, the now-shuttered California company, had been a poster child of President Obama’s initiative to invest in clean energies and received the administration’s first energy loan of $535 million. But a year ago, in October 2010, the solar panel manufacturer was quickly running out of money and had warned the Energy Department it would need emergency cash to avoid having to shut down.
The new e-mails about the layoff announcement were released Tuesday morning as part of a House Energy and Commerce committee memo, provided in advance of Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s scheduled testimony before the investigative committee Thursday.
Solyndra’s chief executive warned the Energy Department on Oct. 25, 2010, that he intended to announce worker layoffs Oct. 28. He said he was spurred by numerous calls from reporters and potential investors about rumors the firm was in financial trouble and was planning to lay off workers and close one of its two plants.
But in an Oct. 30, 2010, e-mail, advisers to Solyndra’s primary investor, Argonaut Equity, explain that the Energy Department had strongly urged the company to put off the layoff announcement until Nov. 3. The midterm elections were held Nov. 2, and led to Republicans taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
No government agency should involve itself in the day-to-day operations of a private company. But the Obama administration has increasingly blurred the line between what is the government and what was the private sector.
It’s worth waybacking a bit to see how things were going inside Solyndra. To many on the staff, the place never seemed like it was being run as a serious business. It had spectacular facilities, a lavish conference room, and inventory piled up with no plan to ever sell it. There was no market for its product. One worker says that after the DoE loan came in, the company just went on a “sloppy” spending spree. Around that same time, Solyndra was telling Congress that its financial future was bright, even while in the background it was desperately scrambling for more money to keep going.
And it’s against that backdrop that we find the Obama Dept. of Energy pressuring Solyndra, a company that seems to have gotten its massive federal loan chiefly because billionaire George Kaiser donates massively to Democrats and Obama, to politicize its layoffs. Half a billion taxpayer dollars, up in smoke. But you can rest assured that Kaiser’s personal fortune remains untouched and Obama’s campaign coffers are stuffed to bursting.