Obama Fundraiser Pushed Solyndra Deal From Inside


White House: Spinner Did Not Oversee Loan Program

When ABC News and iWatch News reported on Spinner's role in the loan deal Sept. 29, administration officials attempted to minimize Spinner's role at the Department of Energy, saying he worked generally as a liaison, but not directly on the loans themselves.

After that report, Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked to respond "to the ABC report that people who were involved in fundraising in the President's campaign were also involved in decision-making on some of these loans inside the Energy Department… Three prominent fundraisers -- Steve Spinner –"

Carney replied: "It's my understanding, at least with regard to the gentleman you just mentioned [Steve Spinner], that he had no connection to overseeing the loan guarantee program."

Emails obtained Friday, however, show Spinner corresponded directly with Solyndra's vice president of marketing and business development. In one, the Solyndra executive sends talking points about the loan and jots a quick note: "Steve, Solyndra's official position on jobs for your speechwriting."

All the emails were turned over to Congressional investigators Friday afternoon. In addition to the Spinner emails, the documents show more episodes where the administration was advised that investing in Solyndra may be a bad bet.

An executive from a company competing against Solyndra for federal loan money asked wryly in February of 2009 if the loan program "is suitable as a 'bail out' program for failing private manufacturers" given Solyndra's "failure to secure new investors." That warning came one month before Energy Secretary Steve Chu announced DOE's commitment to back the solar panel firm.

There also appeared to be objections from the Department of Treasury to the Department of Energy's decision, in early 2011, to restructure the Solyndra loan -- a restructuring that gave private investors the first opportunity to recoup some of their losses should the company fail.

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In one pointed memo, shortly before the company declared bankruptcy, a top Treasury official wrote to the White House to make clear that the decision to restructure the deal did not have Treasury or Justice Department approval -- despite early suggestions that approval from both agencies may be required.

"To our knowledge, that has never happened," wrote Mary J. Miller, Treasury's assistant secretary for financial markets. "While I expect that DOE has a view about why loan subordination can occur without DOJ approval or Treasury consultation, I wanted to correct any impression that we have acquiesced in the steps to date."

A few days after the Solyndra loan closed, Spinner appeared at a clean-tech forum in Boston. He spoke of the virtue of the DOE's support for emerging companies, including Solyndra.

"We liked the taste of it," he said of the solar firm, telling the Boston group the company would create thousands of jobs.

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