Energy Secretary Steven Chu is due to testify before a House Energy and Commerce Committee investigation on Thursday about the Solyndra disaster, in which the Administration flushed half a billion dollars of your money down a solar-powered toilet owned by top Obama contributor George Kaiser. In advance Chu’s testimony, the committee released some background documentation, which produced a head-spinning front page story in today’s Washington Post:
Solyndra’s chief executive warned the Energy Department on Oct. 25, 2010, that he intended to announce worker layoffs Oct. 28. He said he was spurred by numerous calls from reporters and potential investors about rumors the firm was in financial trouble and was planning to lay off workers and close one of its two plants.
But in an Oct. 30, 2010, e-mail, advisers to Solyndra’s primary investor, Argonaut Equity, explain that the Energy Department had strongly urged the company to put off the layoff announcement until Nov. 3. The midterm elections were held Nov. 2, and led to Republicans taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“DOE continues to be cooperative and have indicated that they will fund the November draw on our loan (app. $40 million) but have not committed to December yet,” a Solyndra investor adviser wrote Oct. 30. “They did push very hard for us to hold our announcement of the consolidation to employees and vendors to Nov. 3rd – oddly they didn’t give a reason for that date.”
(Emphasis mine.) That is odd, isn’t it? A real head-scratcher. Argonaut Equity is George Kaiser’s private equity firm, named after a fabled Greek myth in which the hero Jason searches for the Golden Fleece. We got fleeced, all right.
Solyndra worked closely with the Obama Administration to keep taxpayers in the dark until after the midterm elections:
On Oct. 25, 2010, Solyndra chief executive Brian Harrison e-mailed the energy department’s loan staff to explain that Solyndra “has received some press inquiries about rumors of problems (one of them with quite accurate information) and we have received in bound calls from potential investors. Both of these data points indicate the story is starting to leak outside Solyndra.”
Harrison went on to state that he would “like to go forward with the internal communication [to employees regarding layoffs] on Thursday, October 28.”
Harrison’s e-mail was forwarded to program director, Jonathan Silver, who then alerted White House climate change czar Carol Browner and Vice President Biden’s point person on stimulus, Ron Klain. Browner asked for more information about the announcement, and Chu’s chief of staff explained he had left a voicemail message on her cellphone.
We can’t very well have stories with “quite accurate information” about Obama disasters getting out to investors and the public, now can we? Just think: if Americans had really known what was going on with Solyndra in October 2010, the Democrats might have lost the Senate, and we could have a balanced budget right now. Or at least we’d have a budget, period. I can’t wait for the One Thousand Days Without A Budget Thanks To Senate Democrats celebration! We don’t have much longer to wait, as it will be held on January 22.
It looks like the White House might be getting ready to throw Chu under the bus to protect itself from further Solyndra damage. Last Friday’s dead-of-night document drop from the White House included a memo from Obama 2008 research director Dan Carol calling for Chu to be fired back in February, shortly before Solyndra went belly-up. Like everything else the Obama Administration does, this move would have been purely about politics, not an attempt to protect the public treasury. Politico sums up the memo:
“Secretary Chu is a wonderful and brilliant man, but he is not perfect for the other critical DOE mission: deploying existing technologies at scale and creating jobs,” Dan Carol, the research director of the 2008 Obama campaign who now works as director of Multi-State Initiatives for Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, wrote in a February email to White House counselor Peter Rouse that was released Friday by a government source. At the time, Carol was a clean technology fellow for the New Democratic Network.
Carol cautioned that the new secretary should have political distance from the administration, lest it get “caught up in the wave of GOP attacks that are surely coming over Solyndra and other inside DOE deals that have gone to Obama donors and have underperformed.”
Carol’s advice was discarded by White House counselor Peter Rouse, who said, “I’m not that interested in Dan’s criticism of Secretary Chu.” Carol is, apparently, a “green energy” true believer who didn’t understand that the ability to steer huge amounts of tax money to Obama cronies was the only job skill that really mattered for Chu’s position.
Also mixed into the 2,000 pages of emails the White House dribbled out last Friday were communications that conclusively prove former White House chief of staff, and current Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel was lying through his teeth when he claimed he wasn’t involved in the Solyndra debacle, and didn’t even remember the company from his days in Washington. On the contrary, Emanuel was deeply involved, as CNN reveals:
“Ron said this morning that the POTUS definitely wants to do this (or Rahm definitely wants the POTUS to do this?),” one White House staffer told an Obama scheduler on Aug. 17, 2009, referring to Ron Klain, former chief of staff for Vice President Joe Biden.
Also emails from Energy Department adviser Steve Spinnner shed some light on the White House’s involvement in the deal.
Spinnner wrote in an Aug. 28, 2009 email that the White House and vice president’s office are “breathing down my neck on this … just want to make sure we get their questions.”
Spinner wrote emails about this to another Energy Department official and also wrote directly to Solyndra. In one email he inquired about the Office of Management and Budget.
“Any word on O.M.B.?” he asked another Energy Department loan officer. “I have the O.V.P. and W.H. breathing down my neck on this.”
Steven Chu is not going to be enough of a sacrificial lamb to keep Congressional oversight committees away from the White House. The connections are too clear, and the White House lies about keeping George Kaiser at arm’s length have already been shredded. Visitor logs put Kaiser inside the White House four times, plus sixteen more visits from Solyndra investors and company officials. The new revelations about purely political interference from the Administration, designed to hide the Solyndra disaster until after the 2010 midterm elections, have a certain “endgame” feel about them.