In March, ABC News and The Center for Public Integrity's iWatch News documented how Westly straddled the worlds of big time bundler, venture capitalist for green energy firms -- and White House insider.
In August 2010, Westly was appointed to a high-powered advisory board to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Before that appointment, four companies in the Westly Group portfolio secured more than a half billion dollars in DOE support. Last month -- as Westly continued to raise money for Obama and advise Chu -- a fifth firm secured DOE backing. Energy Department officials said the loans and grants were awarded on merit.
In the emails, Westly's warnings about the political risks of visiting Solyndra are countered by other considerations.
One White House staffer writes: "POTUS [the President] could meet with workers/make remarks at the new building site, which is very construction/new jobs heavy. 400+ union labor workers in hard hats using heavy machinery both indoors and outdoors."
At the same time, a July 21 e-mail from Solyndra's representatives at the Glover Park Group to staff at the White House Office of Communications pushes a positive message about the company, under the heading "Solyndra Messages," touting the company's "strong future," "growth market," and emphasizing the benefits of solar panels being "Made in the USA."
Ultimately, the White House decided to go ahead with the factory visit. Ron Klain, then the chief of staff to Vice President Biden, wrote in an email that everyone involved understood there were going to be risks whenever fledgling companies like Solyndra were involved.
"Sounds like there are some risk factors here – but that's true of any innovative company that POTUS would visit. It looks like it is OK to me, but if you feel otherwise, let me know."
An unnamed Energy Department official throws in support for the visit, telling the White House, "the company should be strong going into the fall with their new facilities on line."Another Department of Energy official wrote: "Bottom line is that we believe the company is okay in the medium term, but will need some help of one kind or another down the road."
But OMB analysts remained skeptical. One official wrote darkly of the president's plans to appear before Solyndra workers on the factory floor in California: "Hope doesn't default before then."