Solyndra is one of the worst scandals of the Obama era – and Ron Klain, President Biden’s chief of staff, is right in the middle of it. The issue is fresh again given the new administration’s plans to fund more Solyndra-type companies with countless tax dollars.
Solyndra is the solar power company that accepted a loan of half a billion of your taxpayer dollars that were most lost. An Energy Department investigation found that “the actions of certain Solyndra officials were, at best, reckless and irresponsible or, at worst, an orchestrated effort to knowingly and intentionally deceive and mislead the Department.”
In December 2011, we filed separate FOIA lawsuits against the Obama Department of Energy and the Office of Management and Budget to obtain records regarding the taxpayer funded government loan provided to Solyndra.
We have now filed a FOIA suit against the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Department of Energy to obtain records of communications between Klain, who is now President Biden’s chief of staff, and the agencies about Solyndra (Judicial Watch v. Office of Management and Budget et al. (No. 1:21-cv-00303)).
We sued after the agencies failed to respond to December 2020 FOIA requests seeking “communications between Klain and any official of the Office of Management and Budget/Department of Energy regarding the solar company Solyndra.” We requested records from January 20, 2009, to January 1, 2011, when Klain was chief of staff to then-Vice President Biden.
In 2011, internal emails reportedly uncovered by investigators for the House Energy and Commerce Committee show the Obama administration was monitoring the progress of the $535 million taxpayer loan, “even as analysts were voicing serious concerns about the risk involved.”
“This deal is NOT ready for prime time,” one White House budget analyst wrote in a March 10, 2009 email, nine days before the administration formally announced the loan.
“If you guys think this is a bad idea, I need to unwind the W[est] W[ing] QUICKLY,” wrote Ronald A. Klain, who was chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, in another email sent March 7, 2009. The “West Wing” is the portion of the White House complex that holds the offices of the president and his top staffers.
White House energy adviser Heather Zichal reportedly e-mailed a warning to Klain, Obama aide Valerie Jarrett and Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer: “Here’s the deal: Solyndra is going to announce they are laying off 200 of their 1,200 workers. No es bueno.”
Klain was instrumental in getting President Obama to visit Solyndra. He reportedly wrote to Jarrett:
Sounds like there are some risk factors here, but that’s true of any innovative company POTUS would visit. It looks OK to me. … The reality is that if POTUS visited 10 such places over the next 10 months, probably a few will be belly-up by election day 2012—but that to me is the reality of saying we want to help promote cutting-edge, new-economy industries.
Solyndra later went bankrupt.
Obama and his misdeed continue to haunt the Oval Office.