Obama's Solyndra fiasco

The Solyndra loan was a textbook example of crony capitalism. There's more to come. Photo: Associated Press

PHOENIX, November 5, 2011–President Obama’s latest failed stimulus story has expanded significantly, as White House documents are now being subpoenaed by Congress over the $535 million taxpayer-funded loan given to now-bankrupt and FBI-raided Solyndra.

The Solyndra loan was a disgusting and unethical smokescreen designed to propagandize the American public into thinking Obama was serious about job creation. The degree of crony capitalism behind the loan has not been sufficiently explored by the mainstream media.

The cronyism started in the months prior to the approval of the Solyndra loan by the Department of Energy in March of 2009, when billionaire and Obama bundler, George Kaiser, held numerous meetings with the White House about the pending loan.

George Kaiser holds the biggest stake in the now defunct Solyndra.

White House logs revealed that Solyndra executives and investors held four separate visits the week before the company received its cut of your stimulus cash. Those meetings all took place while a White House budget analyst warned in an email that, “this deal is not ready for prime time.”

Other emails obtained by The Washington Post show that officials from the Office of Management and Budget felt that the White House put them under the gun to approve the Solyndra deal. The OMB officials urged Obama to give them more time to thoroughly review the deal. “We would prefer to have sufficient time to do our due diligence reviews,” the emails read.

Steve Spinner, a major Obama 2008 fundraiser and now an advisor for the Department of Energy, wrote in an email about the final decision, “how f*cking hard is this?” He urged them to approve the loan.

Spinner is married to a partner at the law firm of Wilson Sonsini, which represented Solyndra in its loan application. 

After being put under the gun, the Department of Energy announced on March 29, 2009, that it had approved a loan to Solyndra for $535 million. This loan guarantee made Solyndra the poster child of the “green stimulus.”  

On May 26, 2010, Obama visited Solyndra, boasted about the loan and said, “the true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra.” He praised Solyndra as a Recovery Act (stimulus) success story.

In fact, Obama was so impressed with the failed solar company that the administration wanted to give it another $469 million on top of the $535 million to make it an even billion dollars in taxpayer cash.

However, it all went south after Obama’s visit.

In January, 2011, Solyndra executives confided to the Obama Administration that they were on the brink of liquidation. The administration immediately helped by refinancing the $535 million federal loan, allowing the government to release another $67 million to Solyndra.

The Energy Department pushed to restructure Solyndra, despite preliminary warnings from OMB that this could cost taxpayers $168 million more than liquidation. Should Solyndra be liquidated, $385 million owed to the United States would be subordinated to the $75 million invested this year by investors, including, of course, George Kaiser.  

However, the refinancing failed and on September 6, 2011, Solyndra filed for bankruptcy. The immediate result was the layoff of 1,100 workers.

Adding fuel to the fire, Solyndra executives cashed in big-time just days before filing for bankruptcy. Bill Stover, the company’s CFO who pleaded the Fifth before Congress at a September hearing, was awarded at least $120,000 in bonuses on top of his $367,000 salary. Karen Alter, senior vice president of marketing, received two $55,000 bonuses on April 15 and July 8 of this year, on top of her $250,000 annual salary. Ben Bierman, executive vice president of operations and engineering, received $120,000 in bonuses this year on top of his $276,000 salary.

The scandal took another turn when, on September 8, 2011, the FBI raided Solyndra’s headquarters.

Currently, Congress, the Department of Energy, and the FBI are investigating the Solyndra loan. Just this week, the Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigative subcommittee authorized a subpoena of all White House documents on Solyndra. The subpoena of the documents could include details of the president’s own travel and communications.

Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, is set to testify before Congress on November 17, where we will hopefully learn more details of the crony loan guarantee.

So where does Obama currently stand on Solyndra?

Last month, Obama had the audacity to say that he does not regret giving Solyndra the loan, calling it a “good bet.”

If Obama considers crony capitalism a “good bet,” where is the line in the sand drawn, Mr. President?

Solyndra is unravelling to be one of the biggest Washington scandals since Watergate.

Barack Obama was warned by dozens of White House officials that the Solyndra loan guarantee would be a disaster. Today, we are witnessing that disaster.

This scandal should be a key issue of the 2012 presidential election. So why haven’t any of the 2012 Republican candidates brought this up in the debates? This is a damning story that the candidates are failing to exploit.

What should frighten you even more is that are many more companies like Solyndra out there. Obama approved more than a billion dollars in loans in the past year alone to green companies. Many have already admitted they are on the brink of bankruptcy.

The mainstream media and the Republican presidential candidates must subject Obama’s crony capitalism to harsh scrutiny. We cannot let Barack Obama continue to give backdoor deals to his friends and burn the American taxpayer in the process. 2012 cannot come soon enough.

Email Henry D’Andrea at writedandrea@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter (@TheHenry)

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Henry D'Andrea

Henry D'Andrea is a Conservative columnist and commentator. He writes a weekly column at the Washington Times Communities called "The Conscience of a Conservative," which features his commentary on current events and political stories from a conservative perspective. He often writes on foreign policy, domestic and economic issues, the conservative movement, and elections.


D’Andrea has been a guest on many radio shows throughout the country since writing columns at the Washington Times Communities. His work has been featured in many publications, including Townhall.com, Commentary Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Tea Party Review Magazine, Big Government, Big Journalism, The Gateway Pundit, Instapundit, and many more.


Feel free to contact Henry D'Andrea at writedandrea@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: @TheHenry 


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