'Connected' Energy Firm Got Lowest Interest Rate on Government Loan


George Kaiser Declines Interview Requests

Kaiser has declined interview requests for months from iWatch and ABC News. His Tulsa-based George Kaiser Family Foundation, which in 2009 cited a $342 million investment value in Solyndra, issued a statement after Solyndra's collapse saying the solar firm faced "serious challenges in the marketplace, especially the drastic decline in solar panel prices during the past two years caused in part by subsidies provided by the government of China to Chinese solar panel manufacturers."

Questions have long persisted about why Obama chose Solyndra to be the first green energy company to benefit from the federal loans program. In May, iWatch and ABC reported that the Energy Department announced its commitment to back Solyndra without first receiving full marketing and legal reviews. That shortcut drew criticism from government auditors, who accused DOE of favoring some applicants, like Solyndra, over others.

And Obama's Office of Budget and Management viewed the deal as riskier to taxpayers than DOE had, iWatch found.

As a House committee escalates its investigation of the loan, the fallout from the doomed deal continues. Last week's firings have left more than 1,000 without jobs in a project that was supposed to help stir the economy as well as the environment. On Tuesday, one of those former workers, Dan Braun, filed a class action complaint in the bankruptcy proceeding contending Solyndra illegally fired workers without giving 60 days' notice.

Last Friday, Rep. Pete Stark, D.-Calif., sent a letter to Brian Harrison, President and CEO of Solyndra, raising the same issue.

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"The decision by Solyndra's executives to terminate more than 1,000 of its hardworking employees without warning and to immediately cut off further payment and benefits was reckless, irresponsible and heartless," Stark wrote. "It may also be illegal. I urge Solyndra's leaders to quickly revisit their decision and do right by their employees."

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