BY MIKE BROWNFIELD – Two new chapters in the Solyndra scandal were written recently, one involving a potential bailout of the company and the latest regarding Congress’s move to subpoena the White House for related communications.
Meanwhile, the Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General is “is investigating more than 100 potential instances of criminal abuse of stimulus loan monies,” according to a Daily Caller report.
The Washington Times reports on the Solyndra subpoena:
By a 14-9 party-line vote the Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigative subcommittee authorized issuing a subpoena for any White House documents related to Solyndra, which received renewable energy loan guarantees under President Obama’s stimulus program. The request for documents could include details of the president’s own travel and communications.
The White House immediately took issue with the decision, saying it has “cooperated extensively with the committee’s investigation by producing over 85,000 pages of documents, including 20,000 pages produced just yesterday afternoon,” as Fox News reports.
Congress is undertaking an investigation following news this summer that the company was going bankrupt after receiving a $535 million taxpayer-backed loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. For President Obama, the company was a hallmark of his “green jobs” plan to stimulate the economy, and according to The Hill, Obama Administration officials went so far as to consider a bailout plan to keep the company from going under:
Under the August plan, which was outlined in nearly 1,200 pages of documents the Obama administration released Wednesday evening, private investors would have put about $100 million into Solyndra, the company that received a $535 million loan guarantee in 2009.
Meanwhile, the Energy Department would have agreed to convert some of Solyndra’s debt to the federal government into a partial stake in the company. The agreement would have also authorized the Energy Department to appoint two independent directors to Solyndra’s board.
The Solyndra investigation is just one of many focusing on the Obama Administration, which advertised that under its stimulus plan, scores of Americans would be put to work thanks to a massive outlay of taxpayer cash. But loans made under that plan are now being investigated for possible criminal activities, as indicated by Energy Department Inspector General Gregory Friedman in congressional testimony yesterday.
According to the Daily Caller, Friedman says those investigations have led to five criminal prosecutions and more than $2.3 million in recovered stimulus funds. He also criticized the department’s loan program, saying, “The Loan Guarantee Program had not [been] properly documented and as such could not always readily demonstrate how it resolved or mitigated relevant risks prior to granting loan guarantees.”
One solution to the problem? Heritage’s Nicolas Loris says that Congress should scrap the energy loan guarantee programs altogether:
There are two kinds of companies that seek loan guarantees: (1) those that are economically uncompetitive, and (2) those that can be competitive. The former need loan guarantees to stay alive. But as we’ve seen with Solyndra, even they will eventually fail. For those that can be competitive, loan guarantees are nothing more than handouts that pad their bottom lines. Neither case can be justified.
These clean energy loan and loan guarantee programs don’t just need to be cut. They need to be done away with entirely.
Mike Brownfield wrote this for Heritage.org