Fifth Amendment

FBI Gets Results: America Will Not Hear from Solyndra Execs

|

Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison: hot, not, or refuse to answer?

Thanks to the Obama Administration's interference in the investigation of its half-billion loan to the bankrupt solar panel company Solyndra, the Fremont, California firm's CEO and CFO will not speak freely to the House Commerce and Energy Committee Friday. 

CEO Brian Harrison (pictured at right) and CFO W.G. "Bill" Stover (no photo found) will invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In Solyndra's local paper, David R. Baker and Carolyn Lochhead report

The FBI, they said, has opened its own investigation of Solyndra. As a result, the lawyers advised their clients to keep quiet at the hearing.

"This is not a decision arrived at lightly, but it is a decision dictated by current circumstances," wrote attorney Walter Brown, representing Harrison. "Mr. Harrison regrets that these circumstances prevent him from offering full and complete answers to this Subcommittee."

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee immediately accused Harrison and Stover of breaking their word. The Solyndra executives had agreed in writing to testify under oath before the committee's investigative subcommittee, according to a statement from representatives Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Cliff Stearns, R-Fla. 

Upton chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Stearns chairs the investigative subcommittee. They pointed out that Harrison met with members of the committee this summer and assured them that Solyndra was in no danger of going under.

"Our investigation has gotten this far without much cooperation from Solyndra, and it will continue with or without their voluntary testimony," read the statement from Upton and Stearns. "It's disappointing that the officials who canvassed the halls of Congress in mid-July and misled our members about the financial state of their company are now unwilling to answer direct questions, but any effort to cover up the truth will ultimately not succeed."

This is why I have been raising a stink about having the Obama Administration's own agencies rush into an investigation of the company, effectively pre-empting the House Republicans' very valuable and informative ongoing oversight of the Solyndra debacle. This is not to say either Harrison or Stover would have been completely forthcoming in the absence of a criminal investigation. I have no idea whether they would, but I would absolutely remain silent if I were in their shoes. 

NEXT: Radio: Cavanaugh Saws Bucks With KOGO's Chris Reed, 7:03pm Pacific

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Hope and change!!!

    1. [They] will invoke their Fifth Amendment right

      What, the Constitution covers alleged criminals too? It’s an outrage!

  2. Is Brian Harrison’s facial detail naturally in absurd soft focus?

    1. The top of his forehead is perfectly in focus!

    2. The beady eyes burned through three lenses before they tried the old Liz Taylor trick and shot him through a pair of Wranglers.

  3. You gotta admit how smart a move that is by the Obama administration.
    With an FBI investigation looming, of course they’re going to lawyer up.
    This saves the administration face from not having their testimony heard while appearing to be doing something about it.

    1. Didn’t you hear they opened 17 investigations into police abuse of civil rights?

    2. Absolutely; my first thought as soon as I heard they were invoking the 5th. These guys had better realize that they are going to be sacrificed if at all possible to save the administration’s ass.

      1. They should sacrifice themselves joyfully for the one!

        It is clearly for the benefit of all that government fully participate in green research.

    3. This is an incredibly smart move by this administration. This admistration moves taxpayer monies to a politically protected, but nevertheless, unprofitable business, then cries foul when the business fails. Rather than accept the blame for this failed policy, they investigate and prosecute. The FBI should be investigating the administration, the congress and all regulatory agencies that helped this boondoggle.

      1. We teach our younguns well.

    4. Exactly. These guys, slimy as they are, having taken public money for their venture, are going to become the perfect bad guys. Every effort will be expended to accuse them of fraud, and to cover up the fact that the Administration would just have soon kept pumping money for their way if they hadn’t been discovered.

    5. Actually, I think it’s too transparent to qualify as a good move.

  4. activity disguised as action. The FBI is directed to rush in, effectively cutting off any value from a Congressional hearing. The administration gives the appearance of treating this seriously while basically shoving it backstage.

    1. The FBI is directed to rush in, effectively cutting off any value from a Congressional hearing. The administration gives the appearance of treating this seriously while basically shoving it backstage.

      “Mission accomplished!”

  5. This could still backfire big time on the administration. If the FBI investigation drags on with no results while the House digs up mounds of dirt, it’s going to be obvious to all but the most bloody Obamarrhoids what the purpose of the FBI investigation was.

    1. The FBI will find some evidence of their malfeasance, I am sure.

    2. judging by these solyndra threads, evidence is irrelevant.

      1. judging by my comments, brains are irrelevant

        1. spoof fm a spoof

          1. Wow that’s the 2nd derivative of spoof!

    3. If the FBI investigation drags on with no results while the House digs up mounds of dirt, it’s going to be obvious to all but the most bloody Obamarrhoids what the purpose of the FBI investigation was.

      And then the effectiveness of the FBI will be called in to question and it will be moved into a new Executive-level department.

  6. So, these guys lawyer up. The FBI investigation takes until after the election, and then goes away if Obama is reelected. If he is not reelected, a January pardon comes.

    Either way, a chance for the truth just died.

  7. Hey, you were scooped:

    sevo|9.20.11 @ 7:54PM|#
    Aside: We’ll soon need a sticky Solyndra thread:
    “Solyndra executives to plead the Fifth at hearing”
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/……DTL&tsp=1
    First, they’re too busy washing the car to show up, and now, well….

  8. H/t to commenter sevo.

    1. Thank you, Art. Who knows, maybe Tim will notice…

    2. You don’t give a hat tip to someone unless you found out about the story/fact from them. Seeing as how Reason staff view getting tips in the comments section as roughly equivalent to panning for gold in your toilet, that’s not likely to happen.

      1. Ouch. But still, occasionally they do.

      2. panning for gold in your toilet

        The laugh’s on you, biotch!

      3. OK, they still got scooped.

  9. It used to be, in Silicon Valley, that an epic failure was padding your resume. They used to talk about creative destruction and only hiring guys who have been a part of huge ipo failures. I’m not kidding. Now, they take the fifth.

  10. Well, look at the bright side. Maybe this will make companies think twice before looking for government handouts in the future.

    1. Yeah, right. A few years ago, I made the mistake of publicly asking the CEO of my former employer (market cap ~$18 billion) about the wisdom of accepting stimulus and green energy funds, given the government’s handling of the GM and Chrysler situation. He seemed to totally miss the point and assured me that “it’s good money” and there were no strings attached.

      Subsequently the project that was being financed (after several tens of milliins of dollars were invested) collapsed and the company was forced to shut down an entire plant because the whims of the regulators changed once they saw they had a lever on us and they kept trying to extract more and more. “I have altered the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.”

  11. The whole thing reeks. I don’t see any evidence that Solyndra did anything illegal. Nobody is saying the filed false quarterly reports or falsified their loan application.

    It appears as if the Obama adminsitration called in the FBI both to give themselves political cover (“We did nothing wrong, we were lied to”) and to preempt the House investigation. If noone is commenting because they fear prosecution, that shoves the actual publicity back, possibly beyond election day. No way of knowing when the FBI will be finished with it’s investigation.

    1. I did see a report that even some ordinary employees knew that the plant could never turn a profit. Don’t know how true that is, but isn’t getting investments under false pretenses a big no-no?

      1. Did they falsify the numbers then or just simply pump the administration with happy “potential” and the administration supplied all the self-deception.

  12. The FBI, they said, has opened its own investigation of Solyndra. As a result, the lawyers advised their clients to keep quiet at the hearing.

    Well… I can’t blame them. NEVER EVER talk to the cops. Ever.

    Remember Martha Stewart?

    1. Also, never talk to Congress…remember Roger Clemens…

    2. I had this talk with my wife last night while we were watching law and order.

      I said if you are ever arrested or detained, for any reason, even if you are completely and totally innocent, get a lawyer and don’t say a word. That’s your right.

      To all the lawyers out there, this is wise, yes?

  13. This is not to say either Harrison or Stover would have been completely forthcoming in the absence of a criminal investigation. I have no idea whether they would, but I would absolutely remain silent if I were in their shoes.

    I expect that they would have come down with a case of Congressional Amnesia, anyway.

  14. Congress can give them transactional immunity and then they’d testify or be in contempt.

  15. I would imagine any competent lawyer would advise them to STFU and invoke the Fifth. There is no upside at all to testifying, and a buttload of downside, so why take a totally profitless risk like that?

    The execs are gonna get sued by someone, and anything they say at the hearing can and will be used against them. That seems like a given.

    Blaming it on the Obama administration in this post seems a bit clueless about how legal minds — or the legal system — works.

    1. but obama’s involved, so there must be crime

      1. its not like he funneled half a billion to a big campaign contributor even though omb told him the compny was not sound

  16. Can’t the House just grant the execs immunity, a la Ollie North?

    1. Then they couldn’t fill their role as designated scapegoats and get dragged off to prison.

      1. Wouldn’t this serve the Republican’s partisan agenda?

  17. “Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee immediately accused Harrison and Stover of breaking their word.”

    Made me chuckle. Politicians accusing people of lying or breaking their word.
    I wonder what would happen if people just stopped pretending that the congress critters were in any way honorable or decent people. Sure would be fun to watch.

    1. The TV news and NYT would go out of business. And get bailed out.

  18. Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thank you for your provided information.

  19. It’s turn out to be like a basic necessity for all all over the world.

    1. Shit, yeah. I fucking need some discount jewelry. Never go out in public without it. I’m totally going to keep you in mind dude.

  20. the lawyers advised their clients to keep quiet at the hearing

    That almost never happens!

  21. Here’s why we need a permanent Office of the Special Prosecutor who is independent of both the executive and legislative branches.

    This episode exposes that the Permanent Special Prosecutor will also require the power to immunize any witness against both federal and state prosecution for any crime.

    Because the obvious play here is for the House investigator to say to these guys, “Give us the President and we’ll give you immunity to testify.” But they CAN’T say that because the President controls the FBI and the Justice Department, so he can say to these guys, “Testify to the House and we’ll have you in prison awaiting trial by the end of the day.”

    The only way to overcome the Congress’ and executive branch’s powers both to hide facts and to punish witnesses to public/private crimes is to have a 4th branch of government that can trump both.

    1. a SUPERbranch…as it were?

      1. The Censor!

    2. But they CAN’T say that because the President controls the FBI and the Justice Department, so he can say to these guys, “Testify to the House and we’ll have you in prison awaiting trial by the end of the day.”

      BO doesn’t have the balls to set off a constitutional crisis like that. He would clearly be in the wrong to all but the Team-Bluest observers.

  22. “This is not a decision arrived at lightly, but it is a decision dictated by current circumstances.”

    Such utterances are why those lawyers get paid the big bucks.

  23. The committee looks like it’s going to expose these executives to a public shaming for exercising their constitutional rights – polluting the jury pool if there’s actually going to be a crime.

    What happened to the good old days when prominent liberals championed the Fifth Amendment? It was alleged Commies who involed that amendment. Why are allegedly corrupt executives more horrible, and less worthy of constitutional rights, than alleged members of a conspiracy directed by a foreign totalitarian regime?

  24. Of course they’re going to plead the fizziff. No lawyer with 2 living brain cells would advise otherwise.

    For me, the real Solyndra story yesterday was the news that the Kindergarten Cop gave the company over $34M in tax breaks without looking at their finances.

  25. Nope, Special Prosecutors are reserved for dress stain cases and Scooter chases. God forbid they would want to look into “fast and furious” or the theft of $500 billion by a connected insider.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.