Newly released Solyndra emails reveal that our nation’s destiny is in the hands of men who use the Comic Sans font in email.
The exchanges between George Kaiser, a billionaire donor/bundler for President Obama, and Solyndra board member Steve Mitchell, manager of Kaiser’s Argonaut Private Equity fund, also seem to contradict claims – made by both Kaiser and the White House – that Kaiser had never discussed Solyndra with Obama Administration officials.
The series of emails [pdf] released by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce reveal that Kaiser at the very least had or believed he had an intimate understanding of executive branch thinking on Solyndra.
Kaiser’s advice to Mitchell and Ken Levit, executive director of the Kaiser Family Foundation, includes suggestions on how to handle White House staffers as well as the Department of Defense (where RockPort Capital’s David Prend tried to pressure the U.S. Navy to buy Solyndra panels) and the Department of Energy.
Mitchell describes departed Energy Department loan official Jonathan Silver as having “championed the cause” for giving companies in Solyndra’s position second taxpayer-guaranteed loans in a March 2010 email. In the same message, Mitchell says Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is “apparently staying involved in Solyndra’s application and continues to talk up the company as a success story.”
As for the claim that Kaiser had not discussed Solyndra with administration figures, that seems to be contradicted by the following portion of a March 5, 2010 email from Kaiser to Mitchell, Levet and at least two other recipients whose names have been redacted:
BTW, a couple of weeks ago, when Ken and I were visiting with a group of Administration folks in DC 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.
But the takeaway from this release will certainly be Levit’s and Mitchell’s comments regarding Vice President Joe Biden’s staff. Biden staffers are described as “big fans of Solyndra” who are “working on some bill asking for money” and close to experiencing an “orgasm” at the mere mention of the company’s name.
The Obama administration has refused to comply with a House subpoena seeking all Solyndra-related correspondence.
Update: San Jose Mercury News' Dana Hull comes through for the Democrats, with a story that highlights today's late rebuttal from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California) and Rep. Diane DeGette (D-Colorado) while pushing the "orgasm" and DoD/DoE releases to the bottom of the column. The Merc also posts a larger archive of emails, including one that Hull claims show Kaiser declining to intervene with Obama (about whom Kaiser creepily uses the divinely capitalized pronoun "Him" in one missive [pdf]).
I don't know that anything here strongly supports the claim that Kaiser never discussed Solyndra with his contacts in the Obama Administration, and the scramble for taxpayer largesse [pdf] on display is grotesque. But Waxman and DeGette's 4,000-word letter [pdf] is essential reading for a fuller understanding of the relationships involved. The vigorous counterattacks Democrats have been making actually enhance the Solyndra story. This is a classic case where the real scandal is that none of this stuff seems to have been out of the ordinary.