By Jim Kouri
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) responded this week to the Department of Treasury Inspector General’s report on the Obama administration’s ill-fated $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra by saying “it was a bad bet from the beginning.
The report, “Consultation on Solyndra Loan Guarantee Was Rushed,” reveals that Department of Energy cut out the Treasury Department officials from issues regarding Solyndra, ignoring the agency’s advice and limiting its opportunity to review the high-priced, high-risk financing of what critics call “an Obama green pipe dream.”
“The Treasury report echoes what our investigation has shown over and over; Solyndra was a bad bet from the beginning that was rushed out the door while every red flag was ignored. Treasury’s report confirms the agency had been effectively cut out of the loan guarantee process despite federal laws and regulations that require their consultation,” Upton said. The “serious concerns” of U.S. Treasury officials involving a risky $535 million infusion for a fly by night solar panel firm were ignored as the deal was fast-tracked by the Obama Administration, according to a Washington, DC, watchdog group.
Bankrolled by Obama fundraiser George Kaiser, the now-defunct northern California company (Solyndra) got more than half a billion dollars from the U.S. government to promote green energy. Instead, it abruptly folded last fall, stiffing American taxpayers and laying off more than 1,000 workers. From the start, it was a controversial deal that was suspiciously rushed through for a politically-connected entrepreneur that had raised large sums for Obama, Judicial Watch reported on it’s web site blog.
This week the Treasury Inspector General report shed light on the scandalous process that, not only ignored warning signs about the startup company’s viability, but also blew off the concerns of officials at the agency responsible for doling out the cash. The “loan,” which will never be repaid, was rushed through by “Obama appointees at the Department of Energy (DOE) without Treasury [Department] input,” according to the Judicial Watch blog.
That action violated the terms of the program, which was created by the president’s disastrous stimulus. It allows the DOE to make loan guarantees to companies investing in “innovative clean technologies” but specifically requires the Secretary of the Treasury to be consulted on the terms and conditions of the loan guarantee concurrent with its review process. As of December 2011 the DOE guaranteed 28 projects totaling $16.1 billion after consulting with Treasury, the Inspector General’s audit report says.
Evidently this did not occur with the Solyndra deal because it was expedited for a political donor, said the JW blog. In fact, the IG report cites an email written by a Treasury official after a conference call with the DOE brass, presumably to discuss the pros and cons of the huge Solyndra deal. “We pressed certain issues…but the train really has left the station on this deal.”
Judicial Watch is investigating the Solyndra scandal and has sued the Obama DOE and Office of Management and Budget to obtain records involving the deal.
In September JW submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests seeking records from both agencies, but the DOE says it’s reviewing documents in preparation for public release.
“The Office of Management and Budget has totally blown off the request. This indicates that the administration is on cover-up mode,” Judical Watch officials stated.
“At every step of the way, Treasury was clearly an afterthought in Solyndra’s loan guarantee as well as its restructuring that put company investors ahead of taxpayers. What this report and our continuing investigation show is an Obama administration that was either not up to the job, was cavalier in its attitude for following federal laws, or both, said Congressman Upton.
“Treasury’s examination also underscores why the public is so fed up with the Washington bureaucracy – according to a review by the independent Treasury watchdog, the Obama administration was more worried about sending out a press release than it was ensuring Solyndra was a wise investment. And now taxpayers are paying half a billion dollars for the sins of Solyndra,” Upton claims.