Chatter began to emerge on Thursday about the unique treatment received by the bankruptcy-declaring Solyndra, a government-dependent maker of solar panels whose scheme, shaped somewhere between a pyramid and a trapezoid, was described in the Washington Post no less the following way:
“You make something in a factory and it costs $6, you sell it for $3, but you really, really need to sell it for $1.50 to be competitive,” Lynch said of Solyndra. “It was an insane business model. The numbers just don’t work, and they never did.”
And yet, as the LA Times editorialized:
“Solyndra was the first company to be awarded a federal loan guarantee under the stimulus, worth $535 million. Taxpayers are likely to end up on the hook for much if not all of that amount, a highly embarrassing development for President Obama because he was among the company’s biggest cheerleaders. He visited its Fremont plant in May 2010 even though PricewaterhouseCoopers had weeks earlier raised doubts about its plans for an initial public offering by questioning whether it could continue as a going concern. …”
Also, “Other flags have been raised about how the Energy Department pushed the deal forward. The Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News and ABC disclosed that Energy Department officials announced the support for Solyndra even before final marketing and legal reviews were in. To government auditors, that move raised questions about just how fully the department vetted the deal — and assessed its risk to taxpayers — before signing off.”
Given the obvious rat-hole nature of the lost half-billion, LAT piquantly inquired, “is Obama using stimulus funds to reward his political contributors?” By all means, follow the odor of the ties between major Solyndra backer, key Obama fundraiser George Kaiser of Tulsa.
But there is another question about what political deal may have been involved in the Solyndra boondoggle.
Solyndra resides in Fremont, California, which in turn rests within the then-cozy confines of California’s 13th Congressional District, represented by Fortney “Pete” Stark. As chairman of the tax-writing Ways & Means Committee’s Health Subcommittee during Obama’s push for Obamacare, Stark was critical to Obama’s signature step in ‘fundamentally transforming America.’
You might recall a few procedural curiosities, some strong-arming and vote-buying that went on way back then. So possibly this is relevant.
The search for rationales is intensified given the questions about Solyndra’s sweetheart status, which begin with a point made to me by gentlemen with decades of experience inside energy policymaking: Solyndra’s was the only loan to be handled exclusively by the DoE, absent OMB oversight. Also, it was issued about a year before the second stimulus loan guarantee which is actually from what almost all commitments were made, a year later.
Also, for almost all other loans the stimulus paid for the value of the risk of default that participants (via the infamous loan-guarantee program, originally intended for nuclear plants but thanks to Porkulus is now being used for manufacturers of non-innovative solar technologies). Not Solyndra:
Although the government typically guarantees loans made to a company by a commercial bank, that was not the case for Solyndra. Solyndra borrowed the money from the Federal Financing Bank, part of the Treasury Department, so in effect, the government was lending the money to the company directly. The Energy Department gave Solyndra a conditional guarantee for $535 million, in multiple stages, contingent on reaching a variety of milestones, and to date, it had received $527 million.
The stimulus loan-guarantee was guaranteeing a loan from the Treasury. Ah.
Which initiated free of OMB scrutiny. In addition to being otherwise inexplicable as well as unique, Solyndra’s facility happens to reside in the district of a congressman whose enthusiastic assistance Obama desperately needed for his principal vehicle of social engineering.
That there is no explaining the special treatment Solyndra appears to have received, in apparent ignorance of protocol and procedure is surely one reason House republicans continued to press for documents being refused by the Obama White House for which transparency is a great talking point, to be eschewed in reality at all costs.
Today, on behalf of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, I am sending a request to the Department of Energy under the Freedom of Information Act reading, in pertinent part:
Please provide us within twenty (20) working days copies of any and all record(s), defined here as correspondence and any memoranda, analysis, other communications cited therein or attached, which were created, received and/or held by DoE’s Office of Congressional & Intergovernmental Affairs, or Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which were sent to or from any of the following:
1) the office(s) of Congressman Fortney “Pete” Stark;
2) the company Solyndra;
3) [enumerated individuals and entities identified in public records as being paid representatives of and advocates for Solyndra before the federal government]
Stay tuned for how the most transparent administration in history handles this.