Corporate Scandals

Where's TurboTim? Cliff Stearns Grills Treasury Deputies Burner, Grippo


Gary Grippo, deputy assistant Treasury Secretary for fiscal operations and policy; and Gary Burner, chief finance officer for the Treasury Department's federal financing bank (which is not, apparently, an actual bank, but these days what is?).

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Florida) is leading the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's interrogation of Gary Grippo, deputy assistant Treasury Secretary for fiscal operations and policy; and Gary Burner, chief finance officer for the Treasury Department's federal financing bank (which is not, apparently, an actual bank, but these days what is?). 

History will little note nor long remember my stemwinding, so go watch it live at C-Span. 

The Battle of Plattsburgh rocked slender Lake Champlaign on September 11 1813.

Then come back for the ongoing Solyndra data dump, which you can't even write about on Friday without having to keep coming back to on Monday: 

Wall Street Journal breaks that a major Solyndra investor used his seat on the Pentagon's Defense Venture Catalyst Initiative panel, or DeVenCi, to try and persuade the U.S. Navy to buy solyndra's innovative tubular solar panels. (The Navy, seen here defending an eastern lake from trans-Canadian attack, passed.) 

According to WSJ: 

Solyndra was promoted to the Navy by RockPort Capital, one of the firm's largest investors and board members, which has a seat on a Pentagon panel that helps the government find emerging technologies.

RockPort recommended Solyndra to the military, along with four other companies. In the end, the negotiations for Solyndra's inclusion in a $1 million pilot program fell apart when the Navy learned about the company's pending bankruptcy filing.

The role of RockPort Capital is a new twist in the Solyndra tale, which has focused largely on whether another Solyndra investor, the family foundation of billionaire George Kaiser, helped the firm secure a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. There is no evidence linking the loan guarantee to Mr. Kaiser, who was a significant donor to President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign.

Live House testimony update: If anybody out there knows what the exculpatory memo is that the Democrats want to read into the record, please pipe up.

Since-they're-ignoring-Grippo-and-Burner update: Grippo and Burner said Friday they had "never seen" a loan restructuring similar to the restructuring the Energy Department gave to Solyndra LLC's loan this year.  From AP's Matthew Daly:   

The half-billion dollar loan to Solyndra Inc. was restructured earlier this year so that private investors moved ahead of taxpayers for repayment on part of the loan in case of a default… 

The two Treasury officials stopped short of declaring the loan restructuring illegal, as some Republicans allege.

"I can't give you a legal interpretation on that, sir," Burner told Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla.

ABC's Ronnie Greene and Matthew Mosk pick up another choice nugget from Friday's testimony: Treasury staffers (who work for the president) warned Energy staffers (who also work for the president) that they were not following regulation during this summer's refi:

As it scrambled to save the flagship company of the Obama administration's green energy program, the Energy Department ignored repeated warnings from top Treasury Department officials that it was not following guidelines in refinancing Solyndra's half-billion dollar federal loan, a Congressional hearing Friday revealed.

When the DOE refinanced the government's $535 million loan to the California solar panel manufacturer in February, it agreed to let investors, including a major Obama fundraiser, stand in line before the public to recoup the first $75 million of their investment should the company fail. Solyndra declared bankruptcy six weeks ago.

Trade War watch: Rep. John Dingell (D-Michigan) says "losing control of this technology" is going make harder to preserve "existing industry." Dingell also says there was no criminal misbehavior. 

It's not like former Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison looked like some faceless corporate blob, after all.

Criminalization of life on earth update: I'd like to second Dingell's second comment. In fact, if I were the lawyer for now-former Solyndra honcho Brian Harrison, I'd make the cascading outrages — Solyndra's near-approach to an additional $469 million guaranteed loan, the Navy lobbying, the restructuring hanky-panky, and so on — as evidence against the charge that Harrison committed fraud.

Harrison did not create corporate welfare. His job was to secure public money, not to avoid offending the sensibilities of taxpayers. If he had reason believe he could still secure more such favorable treatment from the government, he can say without falsehood that he believed his company could survive.  

Where did the idea to make Solyndra a centerpiece of the Obama green jobs campaign come from? According to characteristically good work by the Washington Post's Carol D. Leonnig and Joe Stephens, it came from RockPort co-founder David Prend, who asked the administration to "help get the word out" about the company's pending loan guarantee: 

Before Solyndra won the Energy Department's preliminary approval for a $535 million loan, Prend and a lobbyist for a trade group he helped lead suggested that the White House, and perhaps President Obama, should showcase the company.

"I thought the White House might want to take advantage of this event to highlight a highly successful public/private partnership," Prend wrote on March 13, 2009.

All the President's Texts update: Make what you will of the story of Obama's Blackberry. My guess: "Executive privilege" has been signed off by enough powerful people that I'd doubt we'll ever be seeing the president's texts. For more on that, read in Reason how the kingly secrecy of the king is considered kingly by all our political choices: Democrats, Republicans and Democrats. For that reason I believe the contents of the telecom devices of the man trusted to launch missile attacks against both citizens and non-citizens both on U.S. soil and abroad will not be made public. 

There's also a two-versions-of-a-document scandal

Old usolved mysteries update

Who is Steven J. Spinner and why were both president and vice-president "breathing down" his neck? Read more about the big Obama fundraiser's pushy campaign to get the Solyndra loan approved. 

And how can Rahm Emanuel really not remember anything about Solyndra when he asked the magically named Spinner for a defense of the company in an August 2009 email

Have we heard the last of Jonathan Silver, who fled his position as head of the Energy Department's loan guarantee office after a disastrous performance before the House? He still hasn't told everything he knows about the restructuring. 

Was Solyndra a "noble failure" or is erstwhile Green Jobs Czar Van Jones? 

Does Solyndra pursuer Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) like green pork

In this Solyndrysterical world, can we still trust SunPower

Is Cliff Stearns the new name for excitement

Geithner-needs-to-testify update: On behalf of the management, I apologize that this House hearing was such a dud. All your money will be refunded, and as a special bonus, enjoy David Biello's panegyric to Solyndra founder Chris Gronet, a man out there on a handshake and a dream, in Scientific American., and editor Nick Gillespie's sitdown with C-Span founder Brian Lamb:

NEXT: Yet Another Poll: Economy Is Washington's Fault, Not Wall Street's

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  1. Those guys look like the understudies for the management consultants in Office Space. I am the biggest Micheal Bolton fan

    1. “What if – and believe me this is a hypothetical – but what if you were offered some kind of a stock option equity sharing program. Would that do anything for you?”

  2. the negotiations for Solyndra’s inclusion in a $1 million pilot program fell apart when the Navy learned about the company’s pending bankruptcy filing.

    They’re just waiting for the Energy Dept to nationalize Solyndra, so they can start building solar panels on their own.

    1. They also gave a bunch of money to Tesla Motors, another dead loser with big Democratic backers running it. Gee, let’s make a hundred thousand dollar electric sports car. How could we possibly not get rich?

      1. That is all true, but I still want to try driving one.

        1. I would too. But if I had a hundred thousand to drop on a sports car, it wouldn’t even get into my top 30 options.

          1. Instant torque could make it very high on the list, but I’d have to try it out first.

            1. Even with that, it goes 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds. Very fast, but I can get say a mid range 9-11 for about the same price that does it in just a slightly slower 4.5 and not have to plug the damn thing in or be limited by range.

            2. Or for a mere five thousand more, I can buy a government motors Corvette ZR1 that does it in 3.1 seconds and would leave the Tesla for dead on the track.

            3. Or, you can stop piddling around with welfare cars, and get a Benz E63 and get up to 60 mph in a hair over 4 seconds.

          2. I just want to find out what a flat torque curve feels like. The fuckers are free to go belly up after that, though.

            1. Maybe you should refresh before copying me. Moron.

              1. Episiarch is a dish best served cold.


              2. Why the fuck would I do that? I’m this close to paying off Seattle PD to shoot you for no reason.

                1. Ha ha, you dope…SPD doesn’t need to be paid to shoot people for no reason! Joke’s on you!

                  1. As long as you’ve been murdered for no reason, it’s still money well spent.

        2. A friend’s father has one. By all accounts it is pretty awesome to drive.

          1. For what they want for it, it ought to be. But it is only awesome for about a hundred miles.

      2. SpaceX. Tesla. One of these things doesn’t belong.

  3. This is EXACTLY what happens when the journey is more important than the destination. These incompetent, doomed to failure industries are a good bet because GREEN!

  4. This is exactly the kind of thing that there should be an impeachment for, yet it smells like that will never happen. The president just gets more and more immune to repercussions, I guess.

    1. The office of president is impervious. Divine right of the executive, you know.

      1. It is even better. You know the kind of headaches Henry II got for offing Thomas Beckett? If good old Henry would have just had the current US media and Democratic supporters behind him, he would never had to apologize much less pay penance.

        Which speaking of, I like the idea of penance. Make the President walk in a hair shirt down to Mount Vernon were the Supreme Court takes turns lashing his bear back in punishment for his misdeeds.

        1. What we need is an archbishop of rightdoing. Like the Censor.

          1. Yes. He could dole out corporal punishment in the form of lashes to any wrong doing politician.

            1. There’s no end to the creative punishments he will be empowered by the people to give our wayward politicians.

              1. Stocks in the the middle of the National Mall. Let the tourists throw their garbage at them.

                1. Well, maybe for a minor first offense. You’ll get nowhere being lenient with these corrupt, unethical scumbags.

                  1. Ok fine. We can take the old RFK stadium that no one uses anymore and turn it into an arena complete with lions and other man eating creatures. That will get their attention. And we can pay down the national debt with the ticket and pay per view revenue.

                    1. That’s Thunderdome. Already reserved for eliminating cabinet-level agencies.

    2. Repercussions? What is this word…?

    3. Who’s gonna mess with him? He can order assasinations.

      1. Only with drones. It’s illegal, otherwise.

  5. lashing his bear back

    Is this some sort of stock market reference?

    1. No, John just prefers bears. He’s a power bottom.

      Dennis: Some gay guys are twinks, and others are bears. This gay guy’s a bear. By the way we’re totally cool with that. To each his own.

      Frank: Wait, I’m a little confused here. What’s a twink?

      Dennis: A twink is small and slender, like Mac.

      Mac: Oh no, I’m too muscular, I would be a bear.

      Dennis: Ohh don’t think so bro. Not hairy enough.

      Frank: Smooth. I would be a bear.

      Dennis: No no, see I don’t think you’d be a bear either. As a matter of fact, I don’t know what you would be, because you’re definitely not a twink.

      Frank: I’d be a top, that’s for sure.

      Mac: Can a twink be a top, or is that reserved for bears?

      Dennis: I’m sure there’s a great deal of switching back and forth, but I think more often than not bears are tops, unless they happen to be power-bottoms.

      Frank: What’s a power-bottom?

      Mac: A power-bottom is a bottom that is capable of receiving an enormous amount of power.

      Dennis: Actually Mac, you got it backwards. See, a power-bottom’s actually generating all the power by doing most of the work.

      Frank: Does the power have to do with the size or the strength of the bottom?

      Mac: Now Dennis, I’ve heard that speed has something to do with it.

      Dennis: Speed has everything to do with it. You see, the speed of the bottom informs the top how much pressure he’s supposed to apply. Speed’s the name of the game. Right, buddy?

      1. The problem is that our current President is definitely a twink. So my use of “bear” was clearly inappropriate. Now get Chris Chistie or someone in there, then we are talking bear back.

        1. I assume Michele’s the top.

          1. That is probably a more than fair assumption.

          2. “You don’t know what pegging means. You will”

  6. Just imagine how Putin will quake with fear at the unveiling of the world’s first solar powered aircraft carrier (outfitted with solar powered aircraft!).


    1. One would think Hydro power is the future for them things.

  7. If the loan restructuring came with infusion of new private capital, I don’t see the big deal. As someone who has first hand experience with failed startups, it is common practice for the latest round of financing to include priority for the latest investors since the earlier investors have already lost their money and are willing to get in the back of the line in return for keeping a small chance that the investment will pay off.

    Disclaimer: Of course, the government shouldn’t be in the VC business in the first place…

  8. It sounded to me like the Treasury guys passed off all of the blame for restructuring the loan to Justice. Might as well let Holder take the fall for this one too. He’s already toast.

    1. I wonder if Holder is noticing how no one returns his phone calls anymore.

      1. You got to know when to Holder ’em,
        Know when to folder ’em …

  9. I assume Michele’s the top

    Did they reinforce the floors in the Oval Bedroom? I hate to imagine the load, in psi, of the stiletto heels of her thigh high boots.

    1. Lana: [performing painful nerve hold on Cyril] I wonder if Dr. Panty Model knows how many pounds of pressure it takes to snap a human collarbone.
      Cyril: She probably uses the metric system.
      Pam: Yeah, what do they use?kilowatts?
      Dr. Krieger: No. In this case, it would be Pascals.

    2. [rinsing eyes with Clorox]

  10. You shouldn’t be so mean to your bartenders, Episiarch; now everybody knows your real name.

    1. Rickety Cricket?

  11. Epi?

    Andrew Meyer, Capitol Hill Bargoer, Stiffs Bartender, Leaves Rude Note

  12. Based on a photo of the aggrieved bartender, the guy was being pretty goddam generous when he said she needed to lose “a few” pounds.

    She’s a fucking monster.

    And- the comments are pretty amusing.

    1. If you’re ugly, fat, and unpleasant, maybe tending bar is a poor career choice.

      1. What would be the correct career choice? Oh yes, DMV.

    2. Donovan
      I feel really bad for Victoria. People everywhere are writing hateful and spiteful things about her weight. Don’t you people have anything better to do than to attack her? Grow up. She’s probably hiding at home, crying, and eating an entire ham.


      1. Few things make me laugh out loud. But that did it.

      2. Scroll down to the bottom, and pick up the links. They are quite telling.

  13. Burner and Grippo

    I coulda swore I saw them down at the Improv the other night.

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