Solyndra was once known as the poster child for the Obama administration’s “green energy” initiative. However, it has become the poster child for the corruption that ensues when the government treats tax money as a play thing and meddles in the private sector.
Solyndra, you may recall, filed for bankruptcy in September, leaving 1,100 workers without jobs and American taxpayers on the hook for a half billion dollars due to an Obama administration stimulus loan guarantee. Thanks to some good work from the House Energy and Commerce Committee along with some thorough reporting by The Washington Post, we now know that not only was this loan a horrible “investment,” but it was also rife with corruption.
And yet, rather than coming clean and releasing all records related to the Solyndra deal, the Obama administration continues to stonewall and obfuscate.
For this reason, JW filed separate lawsuits against the Obama Department of Energy and Office of Management and Budget to obtain records regarding the taxpayer funded Solyndra loans. Here’s what we’re after, pursuant to our original September 6, 2011, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and subsequent lawsuits:
- Any and all records regarding, concerning or related to the issuance of loan guarantees to Solyndra LLC, Solyndra Inc., Solyndra Fab 2 LLC, and/or 360 Degree Solar Holdings Inc.
- Any and all records of communication between any official, officer, or employee of the Department of Energy and any official, officer or employee of any other government agency, department or office regarding concerning or related to Solyndra LLC, Solyndra Inc., Solyndra Fab 2 LLC, and/or 360 Degree Solar Holdings Inc.
- Any and all records of communications between any official, officer or employee of the Department of Energy and any official, officer or employee of the following entities [Solyndra investors] regarding concerning or related to Solyndra LLC, Solyndra Inc., Solyndra Fab 2 LLC, and/or 360 Degree Solar Holdings Inc.:
a. Argonaut Private Equity LLC
b. Madrone Capital Partners LLC
c. U.S. Venture Partners (USVP) LLC
d. Rockport Capital Partners LLC.
Both agencies have acknowledged receipt of Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests.
The Department of Energy provided two compact discs on October 7, 2011, that contained a partial response to the request while noting that “[a]dditional responsive documents exist and are being reviewed in preparation for public release.” However, to date, no further response has been received.
The Office of Management and Budget has failed to produce any records responsive to Judicial Watch’s request or demonstrate that responsive records are exempt from production. It has not indicated whether or when any responsive records will be produced. The statutory allotted time for responses to both requests has expired, prompting Judicial Watch’s lawsuit.
Let’s review what we already know about the Solyndra “loan.”
We know, courtesy of The Washington Post, that “the White House tried to rush federal reviewers for a decision” on the loan “so Vice President Biden could announce the approval at a September 2009 groundbreaking for the company’s factory.” The Washington Post also reported that Department of Energy officials asked Solyndra to delay announcing lay-offs until after the mid-term elections in 2010. (Energy Secretary Chu denied any improprieties in his testimony before Congress.)
We know Tulsa billionaire George Kaiser, who reportedly raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, is Solyndra’s top financial backer. The Obama administration claimed that Kaiser never discussed Solyndra with White House officials. A lie. Emails obtained by The Washington Post show that Kaiser, who was a frequent visitor to the White House in 2009 and 2010, discussed Solyndra during a White House meeting as recently as last year.
Kaiser evidently wanted another “emergency loan” from the Obama administration to keep the struggling company afloat. The administration refused, prompting Kaiser to invest his own cash and consummate a deal to move ahead of taxpayers in the repayment schedule (in violation of the law and the initial agreement to put taxpayers first in the line of creditors in the event that Solyndra failed).
With all of the controversy swirling around the massive Solyndra bailout this is no time for the Obama administration to ignore FOIA law. The moment the Obama administration decided to “invest” a half billion taxpayer dollars in Solyndra, they owed the American people the truth about how and why these funds were allocated.
Our new FOIA lawsuits show the Solyndra scandal is heating up and that the Obama administration is in cover-up mode. The American people are set to lose $535 million dollars and want to know why it happened. The Obama administration’s lies and potential criminal misconduct by high-ranking government officials make this a scandal of the first order.