Republican leaders on the House Oversight committee have confronted President Obama with newly obtained documents they say reveal disturbing questions about the president’s ties to alternative energy companies favored for Department of Energy loans.
“The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has obtained documents which raise questions about how your interactions with business leaders at political events affected decisions to give billions of taxpayer dollars in loan guarantees to green energy companies through the Department of Energy’s (‘DOE’) 1705 Loan Guarantee Program,” wrote Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and subcommittee chairmen Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to Obama. “The failure of several companies that received loans under the program, including Solyndra’s August 2011 bankruptcy, led to the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds.”
Documents show that senior members of the administration’s economic team raised objections about the taxpayer risk and funds distribution but were overruled by then Chief of Staff Bill Daley, the lawmakers wrote. In obtained emails, DOE employees cheered Daley’s decision as “total victory” and as close to an “annihilation of the economic team’s position as you could possibly hope for.” They stated it was, “Kind of nuts that Chu defeated Treas Sec, OMB head, and NEC head.” Secretary of Energy Chu acknowledged in an e-mail that other administration officials were concerned that loan applicants were receiving “unjust enrichment” from the program.
In October 2011, Obama said that the loan decisions were the DOE’s alone. “I will tell you that even for those projects under this loan guarantee program that have ended up being successful, there are those in the marketplace who have been doubtful,” he said. “… And all I can say is that the Department of Energy made these decisions based on their best judgment about what would make sense.”
Department of Energy Chief of Staff Brandon Hurlbut stated in an e-mail that Obama heard about the program because at “political events he interacts with business community and Congressional members – many of them have some affiliation or interest in the numerous applications we have received that involve substantial funds.”
The Oversight lawmakers requested Obama give the committee by Aug. 21 a full explanation of his involvement in the loan guarantee program, details on his conversations with any business officials at events about the loan program, and all documentation referring to the program.
“The American people have a right to know the level of involvement you and other senior White House officials had in the loan guarantee program,” they wrote.