The Fremont, CA solar cell manufacturer made famous by a visit and endorsement from the president in 2010 announced last week that they were broke. Solyndra has announced they are ceasing operations and that their 1,100 employees would be laid off immediately.
Solyndra gained national attention in 2010 when it became the first so-called green company to receive a federal loan guarantee via the stimulus. Shortly after winning the loan, Solyndra was blessed with a visit from the president during which Obama presented Solyndra as evidence of the administration’s commitment to green energy not to mention job creation. The Department of Energy claimed the massive $535 billion loan would create 3,000 construction jobs for as long as it took to build the facility after which there would be 1,000 permanent jobs created by Solyndra.
The Office of Management and Budget had strong misgivings in offering the loan to Solyndra. The OMB as well as Solyndra’s auditors voiced concerns over the company’s ability to compete globally a mere two months prior to the president visiting the company. Despite clear indications that Solyndra was a bad investment, the administration pushed to have the loan approved. A short time after securing the loan, Solyndra cancelled its scheduled public offering of company stock and announced the closing of its old facility. Despite the writing on the wall, the DOE was so sure of Solyndra’s future success that they restructured the loan this past March.
All of this got the attention of congressional lawmakers as well as the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Sterns (R-FL) started an investigation months ago that has turned up some interesting facts. Congressman Sterns and the committee investigating the treasury’s backing of the Solyndra loan were forced to submit a subpoena on July 14th after months of their requests for information being ignored.
Though the administration has obstructed the committee’s investigation since the beginning, it has been made clear that the DOE and the OMB were aware of the Whitehouse’s interest in securing the Solyndra loan. It’s also been revealed that there were several communications between the Whitehouse and the DOE and OMB during the course of their review of Solyndra and that the Whitehouse monitored the entire process. In addition, and possibly tying everything together, it’s been found that a major campaign donor and donation bundler from Obama’s 2008 campaign, George Kaiser, is one of Solyndra’s major investors.
Today, it’s being reported that the FBI has raided Solyndra’s Fremont offices. I’ve already heard one pundit claim he believes this is an attempt to secure documentation to be used against Solyndra in a lawsuit which will attempt to get the people’s half a billion back. However, if this is the case the whole thing is for show as the HECC’s investigation has also uncovered that the government agreed to have subsequent private investors in Solyndra paid back before the government can hope to see anything.
It’s also being reported today that the administration is set to guarantee another $425 billion in loans to two new solar companies.
Even if you support so-called stimulus money being spent on so-called green jobs, wouldn’t it be better to have the recipients fully vetted and only those most likely to succeed be granted the loans? Once again, Obama has used our money to line the pockets of his political allies as opposed to helping those who contributed the money.
The announcement of more federally backed loans for solar companies is likely nothing more than a smoke screen intended to take the focus off the irregularities surrounding the Solyndra loan. In essence, the president is willing to waste another half billion in an after-the-fact attempt to appear objective and truly dedicated to green industry, as opposed to simply picking whose going to get our money.