“The Department of Energy made these decisions based on their best judgment.” – President Barack Obama speaking on Solyndra scandal, Oct. 6, 2011
New e-mails show that Energy Department bureaucrats were warned that their $535 million loan restructuring plan to aid a collapsing solar firm called Solyndra could violate federal law and should be cleared through the Department of Justice. According to DOE officials, the advice was ignored and instead, “career lawyers in the loan program based on a careful analysis of the statute” determined the legality of the deal.
Last month, Chairman of the House Energy Committee, Cliff Stearns (R-FL) described the loan restructuring as an “illegal act” as it put private investors ahead of tax payers for any loan pay-outs that might occur. Those private investors given priority over tax payers included hedge funds connected with major Obama fundraiser George Kaiser.
More from the Washington Post:
The documents offer new evidence of wide disagreement between officials at the Energy Department and officials at the Treasury Department and Office of Management and Budget, where questions were raised about the carefulness of the loan vetting process used to select Solyndra and the special help it was given as its finances deteriorated. Energy Department officials continued to make loan payments to the company even after it had defaulted on the terms of its loan.
The Solyndra controversy has escalated with each new release of documents to a Republican-led House energy subcommittee investigating the matter. President Obama defended the Energy Department in a news conference Thursday, saying its decisions were made by career professionals. Also Thursday, the head of the embattled loan program announced that he would step down, although Energy Department officials said he was not doing so because of the Solyndra matter.