Solyndra executives scheduled to testify before a House committee on Friday were likely expecting some tough questions. In general, Republicans will wonder whether their political ties got them favorable treatment from the Energy Department. Democrats will want to know why the company said it was financially healthy mere weeks before it collapsed.
But the announcement by Solyndra’s chief executive and head financial officer that they will “plead the Fifth” and refuse to answer committee questions will spawn a whole new line of interrogation: what happened over the past week to get them renege on a commitment to be fully open with the committee?
In an email to committee staff dated September 10, an attorney for the company said that CEO Brian Harrison “will appear voluntarily and answer the Committee’s questions on any day the Committee chooses, beginning next week and continuing thereafter.” The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has entered that letter into the record, suggesting that it will play a significant role in Friday’s hearing. Committee members will want to know what changed over the last week.
As Scribe reported yesterday, Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) took them at their word; he agreed to postpone their appearance before the committee, and told the Heritage Foundation that they had agreed to cooperate. The letter from Solyndra’s counsel lends weight to that claim.
Also submitted in the record are two letters from Solyndra to Energy and Commerce over the summer that sought to assure members of the company’s financial health. One letter from Harrison, dated July 13, proclaims that Solyndra “is an example of a U.S. company using American innovation and ingenuity to compete in the global solar market.”
Six weeks after that letter was sent the company filed for bankruptcy.