One day after solar company Solyndra closed its doors, two U.S. congressman are asking the White House for all documents related to the federal government’s $535 million loan guarantee. The probe also seeks correspondence between administration officials and the company’s investors, seeking to uncover if the White House engaged in cronyism to reward a major campaign donor.
Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) was pursuing an investigation of the Department of Energy’s $535 million loan long before Solyndra announced plans to file for bankruptcy. Now, using his perch as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Stearns is turning up the heat. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of Energy and Commerce, also signed Thursday’s letter to White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler. (Copy of the letter below.)
The congressmen ask the White House to turn over all documents by Sept. 12. Previous attempts have been met with resistance, including the refusal by the administration to testify before Congress about the taxpayer-backed loan.
“Solyndra represented the first step in the Obama Administration’s $60 billion loan guarantee program, which promised to create thousands of new jobs,” Stearns said. “Now with the collapse of Solyndra, we see 1,100 employees out of work and taxpayers out of $535 million, most likely.”
Solyndra secured the loan from the Department of Energy under a stimulus program. It was hailed as a model example by President Obama, who even visited the plant in May 2010. Vice President Biden spoke via satellite at Solyndra’s groundbreaking ceremony in September 2009 and Energy Secretary Steven Chu was in Fremont, CA, to mark the occasion.
Perhaps it wasn’t unusual to shower so much attention on the company. After all, Obama has close ties to one of Solyndra’s investors, Oklahoma oil billionaire George Kaiser. He was a “bundler” of campaign donations for Obama in 2008. In that role, Kaiser raised at least $50,000 for the campaign.