Corporate Scandals

Goodnight, Solyndra: $1/2 Billion Swindle Delivered $1,015.25 Entertainment

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Once more for old times' sake: President Obama greets a Solyndra panel.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu whiffed in front of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, but he apparently hit a record number of foul balls in one at-bat, so the crowd lost interest. 

E&C Committee staff director Gary Andres has been outed as a vice chairman at Solyndra lobbying firm Dutko Worldwide, further depleting the will of House Republicans who are themselves indentured to the green pork superstructure

Mitt Romney adviser Ron Kaufman is a top adviser at Dutko, rendering it improbable that the rock-ribbed small government conservative will make much of a campaign issue of Solyndra. 

GreenTechMedia's Eric Wesoff puts it all together and deduces that Solyndra has become a ghost of a scandal

Yesterday, Solyndra said in bankruptcy court that no qualified bidders have emerged and that the remains of the company—intellectual property, equipment, and real estate—would have to be sold in separate auctions. An "extremely low-ball" bid was made, according to chief restructuring officer Todd Neilson, quoted by the Associated Press, but "it was mainly designed to take the equipment and the real estate at an extraordinarily low price."

Neilsen said, in the same AP piece, that fewer than five foreign bidders are still performing due diligence—but it is "highly unlikely" that a buyer willing to restart the factory's production would emerge.

Congress has had its day with Solyndra, although the CEO and CFO are not out of the hot seat. Steve Chu has been compelled to testify and he held his ground on the loan guarantee decision-making process. Jonathan Silver has left his post as head of the DOE loan guarantee program. The impropriety surrounding executive bonuses at the firm has been revealed. Songs have been composed.

I'd differ with Wesoff's characterization that "Steve… held his ground on the loan guarantee decision-making process." Maybe Wesoff's standard for holding ground is lower than mine, but Chu failed to explain how the original Solyndra loan guarantee decision got made just weeks after Energy Department lifers had vetoed it; why Energy gave the company's officers an outrageous loan restructuring earlier this year; why the restructuring was not vetted by a Justice Department that is itself hardly an island fortress of disinterest from Obama Administration politics, and so on. These are serious matters and Solyndra is a costly, serious abuse. 

But I don't really disagree that Solyndra has exhausted a radioactive half-life. (There's more radiation on the sun than there was at Three Mile Island, people!) The fact that there is bi-partisan – or is it transpartisan? – support for this kind of waste should make the story that much more maddening. But within the Republocrat consensus it's considered a mitigating circumstance. 

The Republicans' Inspector Clouseau routine with Chu left little hope that we're going to get an aggressive investigation in this era of collegiality. And that's not counting the shameless behavior of Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colorado) and Henry Waxman (D-California), who began the Solyndra scandal making public-spirited noises but ended up running interference for the president. 

I'm still hoping for a Rhambo subpoena. Like Evel Knievel and the Blessed Virgin Mary, I reserve the right to announce my last appearance on earth and then continue making appearances. But Solyndra does seem to be passing into the afterlife with Hillary Clinton's statistically improbable cattle futures gains and Halliburton's no-bid Iraq contracts: mysteries that fade not because they've been solved but because corruption is the fuel of effective politics.