The White House released a bunch of emails related to the Solyndra bankruptcy scandal to Congressional investigators today, in what has become a regular Friday evening email dump.The emails, obtained by several news organisations, implicate the most senior levels of the Obama administration in the scandal, which has tainted the White House since the solar company went bankrupt last month, leaving taxpayers on the hook for a $534 million federal loan.
Here are the highlights:
One email, obtained by the Washington Post, suggests that Obama and/or his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was actively involved in trying to get Solyndra’s loan application approved in time for a September 2009 press conference.
“Ron said this morning that the POTUS definitely wants to do this (or Rahm definitely wants the POTUS to do this?),” one White House staffer told an Obama scheduler on Aug. 17, 2009, referring to Ron Klain, former chief of staff for Vice President Joe Biden.
Steve Spinner, an Obama fundraiser who worked in the DOE loan department, repeatedly pushed the chief loan officer to expedite approval of Solyndra’s loan — despite the fact that his wife worked for the law firm representing Solyndra. The firm received at least $2.4 million in fees related to the loan, according to the AP. DOE officials have previously stated that Spinner did not “actively participate” in Solyndra’s application.
“How [expletive] hard is this? What is he waiting for? Will we have it by the end of the day?” Spinner wrote on Aug. 28, 2009. “I have OVP [Office of Vice President] and WH [White House] breathing down my neck on this. They are getting itchy to get involved if needed. I don’t want that.”
In 2011, the Treasury Department warned the DOE about the questionable legality of Solyndra’s refinancing deal, which put investors ahead of taxpayers in the event the company went under.
“In February, we requested in writing that DOE seek the Department of Justice’s approval of any proposed restructuring,” an assistant Treasury secretary wrote in an August 2011 memo to the OMB. “To our knowledge that never happened.”
Another email, obtained by TIME, suggests that Solyndra’s bad finances and poor business model were well-known within the solar panel industry. A February 2009 letter from the CEO of Solyndra’s main competitor, Nanosolar, basically asks what everyone in the country is asking now:
“In light of the DoE loan program application of a competitor of ours, Solyndra, and given the well-publicised rapidly deteriorating financial state of this company as well as its failure to secure new investors and maintain a balance sheet adequate for product introduction, I would appreciate clarification from you about whether the DoE loan guarantee program is suitable as a ‘bail-out’ program for failing private manufacturers.”
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