The White House’s Friday evening Solyndra document dump revealed a pair of interesting facts that should not be lost in the news cycle’s three-day-weekend lull. Neither is a smoking gun, but both will likely fuel the fire of an investigation the administration would rather see die out.
According to internal emails released on Friday, the White House was informed that Solyndra planned on announcing layoffs mere days before the 2010 midterm elections. “No es bueno” – not good – exclaimed a White House staffer on October 27, two days after Solyndra informed the Energy Department of the layoff announcement.
DOE “push[ed] very hard for us to hold our announcement” on the layoffs until the day after the election, a Solyndra staffer wrote on October 30. That email was released last November. The latest batch does not show that the White House exerted pressure to delay the announcement, but the timing of the emails is likely to raise more questions than it answers.
The emails also reveal that the administration was planning the president’s visit to Solyndra’s Fremont, Calif., headquarters even before a pair of DOE panels approved the company’s loan guarantee. Neither the Credit Committee nor the Credit Review Board had met on March 6, 2009, when a DOE memo noted: “Serious consideration being given to having the president announce on March 19th during his California trip that DOE is offering a loan guarantee to Solyndra.”
During the latter days of the George W. Bush administration, the Credit Committee voted unanimously “not to engage in further discussions with Solyndra at this time.” Less than three months later, after Bush’s successor took office, the loan guarantee was approved.
While the March 2009 DOE memo does not clearly show wrongdoing by the administration, it does suggest that it was forging ahead with the loan guarantee even before properly assessing its merits.