GOP’s Poe: Solyndra Stimulus Payout ‘Old-Fashioned Chicago Cronyism’
Wednesday, 14 Sep 2011 05:25 PM
By Martin Gould and Kathleen Walter
And that sounds like “old-fashioned Chicago cronyism,” Poe told Newsmax exclusively.
“It’s wrong to come across any politician paying your friends’ businesses and all of a sudden you get campaign contributions from them,” said Poe.
“They are still under investigation by the FBI, but to the casual observer, it doesn’t pass the smell test. It looks like what it looks like, that this so-called green energy company that’s now defunct got a loan and then the person that runs this green energy company is out raising money for the administration.”
Just two years after securing the $535 million loan guarantee Solyndra declared bankruptcy, putting 1,100 employees out of work without severance. The firm’s headquarters in Fremont, Calif. was raided by the FBI on Thursday last week as part of an investigation by the Department of Energy.
The House’s Energy and Commerce Committee is currently holding hearings into the loan guarantee. “It’s a special deal that the taxpayers are on the hook for” said Poe.
Republicans claim that the guarantee was rushed through without proper oversight so it could be announced by Vice President Joe Biden at a company event in 2009.
Poe, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, said that committee is unlikely to take action until the Energy Committee has finished its investigation.
On Wednesday, House Republicans questioned whether the White House rushed approval of a government loan guarantee for Solyndra before a review was complete. The company has since filed for bankruptcy, leaving taxpayers on the hook for the multi-million loan.
Solyndra Inc. was a major presence in Washington and spent millions lobbying the federal government, particularly about the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program. Its executives raised tens of thousands of dollars for Democrats. Obama visited its Fremont, Calif., headquarters to highlight the kind of renewable energy companies worthy of economic stimulus money.
The congressional panel examining the loan disclosed emails that appeared to show senior staff at the Office of Management and Budget chafing about having to conduct “rushed approvals” of federal loan guarantees designed to help jumpstart the nation’s renewable energy industry.
GOP lawmakers said a groundbreaking for Solyndra featuring Vice President Joe Biden was scheduled for September 2009, even before the Energy Department had submitted its final paperwork on the terms of the OMB loan.
“We would prefer to have sufficient time to do our due diligence reviews and have the approval set the date for the announcement rather than the other way around,” said one of the emails from an unnamed OMB aide to Biden’s office.
Obama cited Solyndra as an example of how the economic stimulus bill would create jobs. But the company has since filed for bankruptcy and laid off 1,100 workers, saying it couldn’t compete with foreign manufacturers of solar panels.
Shortly after the filing, FBI officials raided the company’s headquarters. The company said the FBI was seeking records on the loans.
Documents reviewed by The Associated Press show Solyndra spent nearly $2 million lobbying the federal government during the last four years, including on provisions of the Energy Department’s loan program just months before White House officials urged that the funds be approved.
In the first quarter of 2009, Solyndra paid McBee Strategic Consulting $20,000 to lobby on issues related to the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program, records show, and it paid $30,000 in early 2008 to Dutko Worldwide to handle Solyndra’s loan application.
Republican lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigations panel questioned why there was a rush to approve the loan and whether the entire loan guarantee program was warranted.
“Our investigation raises several questions about whether the administration did everything it could to protect taxpayer dollars,” said the committee’s chairman, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the emails don’t suggest that the White House was pushing for the loan to be made.
“What the emails make clear is there was urgency to make a decision on a scheduling matter. It is a big proposition to move the president or to put on an event and that sort of thing so people were simply looking for answers about whether or not people could move forward,” Carney told reporters at the White House.
“It had nothing to — and there is no evidence to the contrary — nothing to do with anything besides the need to get an answer to make a scheduling decision,” he said.
The Obama administration and Democratic lawmakers have aggressively sought to invest in renewable energy projects as a way to create jobs and to reduce the nation’s reliance on oil. They note that other countries are investing heavily in solar and that the race for solar manufacturing jobs is worth winning because the global market is going to be worth trillions of dollars.
The Energy Department has continued to announce loan guarantees for renewable energy projects even after the Solyndra bankruptcy. On Tuesday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the department had completed a $1.2 billion loan guarantee to Mojave Solar LLC to develop a 250 megawatt solar generation project in San Bernardino County, Calif.
Read more on Newsmax.com: GOP’s Poe: Solyndra Stimulus Payout ‘Old-Fashioned Chicago Cronyism’
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