Buried in the treasure trove of White House emails related to Solyndra released Thursday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee is one suggesting that concerns about Solyndra’s viability were shared all the way up to then-White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley a full six months before the company went bust.
First, some background.
We’ve known for a while that career analysts at the Office of Management and Budget had told the Department of Energy that they had concerns about Solyndra. The emails show that OMB analyst Kelly Colyar urged the company be shut down and its assets sold off in January 2011. Liquidating Solyndra then, she estimated, would limit taxpayer losses to $141 million. The Department of Energy’s plan to save the company by restructuring the loan, she warned in a January 2011 email, could mean losses “significantly HIGHER” for taxpayers.
The Department of Energy rejected those warnings, leaving taxpayers on the hook for nearly the full $535 million loan when Solyndra declared bankruptcy last September.
As Solyndra began sinking for good last August, Colyar sent an email summarizing the events leading to a near total taxpayers loss of the $535 loan.
“You may recall that DOE announced in March that they had restructured the Solyndra loan,” Colyar writes. “Prior to this restructuring, OMB staff expressed reservations about the prospects of the company and DOE’s proposal.”
And here’s the key line: “The issue was discussed with the NEC and the Chief of Staff.”
In the end, of course, the loan restructuring went through anyway and, Colyar writes, “Unfortunately, the scenario which OMB staff had feared has materialized.”
That “unfortunate situation”, of course, was a bankruptcy that left taxpayers unable to recoup almost all of $535 million loan blown by Solyndra.
There’s no word from the White House on any of this.
Here’s the email, on page 106.
UPDATE: An OMB official tells ABC News that Colyar told the Energy and Committee in a February 2012 interview that she had no personal knowledge of any briefing with Daley and did not meet with the chief of staff herself. There is no reference to that, however, in the Committee’s report.