Solyndra: Blame It On Bush, Say Obama Officials


Solyndra Was Central to Obama Green Strategy

Both administration officials and Energy Department officials pushed back on suggestions from Republican critics that politics could have influenced the process. They said emails released Tuesday only show that the White House was eager to have the president make the Solyndra announcement, and that a great deal of advanced planning work was underway to try and accomplish that. They said Kaiser made no effort to influence the process, and noted that several Solyndra executives were Republicans -- including its chief executive.

Democrats in Congress spent much of the Wednesday hearing voicing those key points.

"The documents and briefings that I've reviewed show that the Department of Energy in both the Bush and Obama administrations supported Solyndra's loan guarantee application," said Rep. Diana DeGette, a Colorado Democrat.

But with the company in bankruptcy and FBI agents investigating elements of the deal, some Democrats in the House were still raising doubts about the wisdom of the investment.

"We need to understand what happened, who should be held accountable, and how we can avoid future losses," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D.-Calif.

In April, after ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity aired the first in a series of reports on the Solyndra deal, Waxman was an early critic of the decision by House investigators to pursue the matter. He wrote a letter saying his own review had not uncovered "any information or documents that suggest any impropriety, wrongdoing, or favoritism in the award of the Solyndra loan guarantee."

But Wednesday, Waxman expressed displeasure with the sudden collapse of the company, especially after the company's CEO had just weeks earlier visited his office and personally vouched for the promise of the company.

"Well, these rosy scenarios were not realized," Waxman said. "Today we'll ask why. Is the reason unforeseen developments in the global marketplace, as Solyndra and DOE argue? Or is the reason sloppy or inadequate vetting, or worse yet, corporate malfeasance?"

As the hearing was underway, the Department of Energy was sending out emails to the press intended to convey that Solyndra was a bipartisan problem.

"At several points in the hearing, folks have pointed out the party affiliation of the private investors who lost a billion dollars of their own private capital on this deal," wrote Dan Leistikow, the department's director of public affairs. "Of the two major investment firms who risked and lost the most, one happens to be associated with a Democratic donor and one with a Republican donor. I frankly can't understand what that has to do with anything, but I suppose it's always good to see a little bipartisanship."

But Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican, made note during the hearing that "the administration officials held out the company as a shining example of how the stimulus was creating jobs and invigorating the economy."

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Indeed, when the loan was announced in March of 2009, Energy Secretary Chu issued his own press release, identifying Solyndra as "part of President Obama's aggressive strategy to put Americans back to work and reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

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