Billionaire George Kaiser, a key fund-raiser for President Obama, visited with White House officials about now-bankrupt Solyndra, and suggested the solar panel company “was one of their prime poster children” for renewable energy.
That’s according to e-mails released Wednesday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee—which obtained these and others from the White House, and Energy and Treasury Departments—that contradict claims there was no discussion about Solyndra.
“The documents we have obtained thus far demonstrate that such high-level White House advisers as Valerie Jarrett, Ron Klain, Rahm Emanuel and Larry Summers were involved in discussions and decisions related to Solyndra,” Rep. Fred Upton (R.-Mich.), committee chairman, and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R. -Fla.), chairman of the subcommittee on oversight and investigations, said in a letter to Kathryn Ruemmler, White House counsel to the President.
The panel is investigating the $500 million guaranteed government loan to Solyndra, which also received a hefty investment from the George Kaiser Family Foundation. The committee also wants to know why the Kaiser Family Foundation was given priority for repayment of its 35% stake over taxpayers when the loan was restructured,
Kaiser acted as a bundler for the Obama campaign, raising $50,000 to $100,000.
The documents appear to dispute repeated claims by the White House that the solar panel company or the government loan was ever discussed with Kaiser.
“They about had an orgasm in Biden’s office when we mentioned Solyndra,” said one e-mail from Ken Levit, executive director of Kaiser’s foundation.
“That’s awesome!” said the response from Steve Mitchell, an official with Kaiser’s venture capital firm Argonaut. “Get us a DOE [Energy Department] loan.”
Another e-mail from Kaiser to Mitchell dated March 5, 2010, said that just weeks prior, he and Levit “were visiting with a group of administration folks in D.C. who are in charge of the stimulus process, (White House, not DOE) and Solyndra came up, every one of them responded simultaneously about their thorough knowledge of the Solyndra story, suggesting it was one of their prime poster children.”
Last week the House Committee approved subpoenas to the President and Vice President Joe Biden’s office seeking information on possible political influence as part of its investigation, but were soundly rebuffed.
In her letter to the panel rejecting the subpoena, Ruemmler called the order “unprecedented and unnecessary.”
“I can only conclude that your decision to issue a subpoena, authorized by a party-line vote, was driven more by partisan politics than a legitimate effort to conduct a reasonable investigation,” Ruemmler said.
In a letter to Ruemmler on Wednesday pressing for additional information, the Republicans said that the 17 visits Kaiser made to the White House, in addition to these and other e-mails, directly contradicts the administration’s claim Solyndra was never discussed.
“It is important that you provide information from your own internal review, such as how many individuals in the White House were involved in the Solyndra matter and the quantity and type of responsive documents in the possession of the White House,” the Congress members said.
“We could then discuss your concerns based on actual facts rather than hypothetical fears about the nature and scope of the Committee’s request,” the letter said.
House Speaker John Boehner told Newsmax.TV that Congress would be “relentless” in its oversight investigation and pursuit of more government documents and e-mails.
“They’re making the mistake that every White House makes—slow down the development of the documents, decide they’re not going to comply, redact the documents to no end,” Boehner said.
“And all they’re going to do is drag this out. We are not going to turn our heads or turn a blind eye to what appears to be some incredibly horrible decisions. So the Congress will be relentless in our pursuit of the truth,” Boehner said.