President Obama's Energy Department pressured Solyndra brass to avoid laying off workers at the doomed solar panel maker until after the 2010 election, according to documents released late last week.
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."
If Energy Secretary Steven Chu is your idea of a guy who makes every second sizzle, this should definitely amp up the excitement when the troubled Nobel laureate testifies – after months of silence, stonewalling and delay – to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce the day after tomorrow.
The mainstream media have done yeoman work on Solyndra, with Leonnig and Stephens standing out for their excellent reporting. This is just one of many vital pieces of the Solyndra puzzle the two reporters have discovered.
And no, I do not know what "yeoman work" actually means.
Unfortunately, I have a print column on Solyndra coming up, and the Oogie Boogie unraveling of the White House's bag of excuses is giving me serious leadtime blues.
Just in the past few days we learned that:
- A highly respected Obama fundraiser/environmental advisor strongly recommended firing Chu in February, and his recommendation got serious discussion among the president's staffers.
- White House environmental adviser Heather Zichal warned about Solyndra's decrepit finances (though more out of consider-the-optics concerns than fiduciary concerns) in August 2009, and the decision to ignore that advice and highlight the company was taken by Rahm Emanuel, then chief of staff, now Mayor of Chicago. Emanuel continues to claim total memory loss regarding his role in the Solyndra affair.
- Missy Owens, Vice President Joe Biden's niece and Chu's deputy Chief of Staff, was in on many prominent Solyndra memos, including one predicting the loan guarantee that later cost taxpayers at least $528 million would be regarded as "the foundation of our 21st century economy."
- During the late stages of Solyndra's failure, Chu and Energy Department officials ignored warnings that might have limited taxpayer losses, gave additional assistance to the Fremont, California company and tried to quiet internal criticism.
- The mystery of who bought up Solyndra's assets has deepened.
- The roster of green corporate welfare recipients has grown.
- The supply of "green collar" jobs has not.
- The Obama Administration has hardened its claim that there's nothing to see here.