I had planned a comprehensive post on the growing SolyndraScam story but I have to admit failure. Things are moving so quickly and in so many different directions that it’s hard for me to fix one particular narrative in the time I have during the day to write blog posts. Instead, let me put together a series of links, more or less in chronological order, that should give you all the big points and a few of the more interesting details.
On August 31, a company called Solyndra announced that it was bankrupt and let go about 1,100 employees. This wouldn’t have been big news except for two things: 1) Solyndra was one of the companies touted by President Obama as a shining example of how “green jobs” would revitalize our economy, and 2) the company had recently received a $535 million dollar loan guarantee from the federal government for a planed expansion. The company scrapped the expansion plans shortly thereafter and fired 150 employees. That move aroused the curiosity of Republicans in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who began to investigate the loan in July.
After the bankruptcy announcement, and the publicity it brought to the loan itself, things started moving a lot more quickly. The FBI, at the request of the Department of Energy’s Inspector General, raided Solyndra’s offices for purposes not immediately clear. Back in Washington, The House Energy and Commerce committee released a series of e-mails that showed the White House put heavy pressure on the Office of Management and Budget to give Solyndra its fiscal stamp of approval, even though the OMB said outright that it had serious doubts about the company’s viability. Indeed, the White House seemed insistent that the loan go through so that Vice President Joe Biden could use it as a political prop when he attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the company’s new plant.Rahm Emanuel, the Chief of Staff at the time the White House rammed the loan home, said he didn’t remember the loan and knew nothing about it.
Are you getting some very “Watergate” vibes from this story yet? Well, we’re not done.
You might be asking yourself why Solyndra got so much personal attention from both the President and Vice President. We don’t know the answer for certain, at least not yet, but we do know that the company spent quite a bit of money on lobbying efforts to get a chunk of the sizable pot of money available for “green job” loans and that one of its chief investors was a leading Obama campaign “bundler” who had visited the White House a few times before the loan went through.We also have a report that the administration restructured the loan after Solyndra canceled its expansion plans so that the company’s investors would get paid back before the taxpayers. By the way, the guy who wrote the article I just linked carried quite a bit of water for the administration and Solyndra when the Congressional investigation began. One might be tempted to call his work propaganda, but surely that would be an act of rank cynicism, wouldn’t it?
The entire “green loan” program seems to be a big bust, at least for we taxpayers. According to Justin Hart, Solyndra only managed to create 14 legitimate jobs with the hundreds of millions of our dollars it raked in. Other efforts have not worked either, as the government itself reported the $38.6 billion-dollar program has created less than four thousand jobs (including those lost when Solyndra went under). In fact, the whole notion of “green jobs” has been as big a bust here as it has been in Spain and Denmark.
So, what now? The investigations in Congress and the conservative blogosphere continue apace, though not all the MSM seems quite so interested. We’ll have to see how things shake out, and who is willing to take a few shots for the President. However, the White House has not slowed its efforts to spend your money where it thinks you should spend it. The administration is now scrambling to close 15 other “green” loans before the end of September as well, and we have yet to learn anything about those companies or their connections to the administration. We have also learned about another company called LightSquared, which received White House intervention in a couple different ways, one of which reportedly involved an attempt to suborn false testimony from a four-star General. That may involve an investigation as well, though if you consider that the House is already looking into Solyndra and Operation Fast and Furious, you’ll understand if they let that one sit for a little while.