The House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee grilled Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu for four hours yesterday about his role in approving and managing a $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra. The solar technology company — celebrated by President Obama and other top administration officials as a “green jobs” and Stimulus success story in 2009 and 2010 — closed its doors and filed for bankruptcy protection in September 2011.
Yesterday’s hearing was part of a nine-month investigation. The Committee reviewed 186,000 pages of documents from DOE, 10,000 pages from the White House, and another 1,000 from Treasury. Oversight Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and other GOP Members charge that Obama officials rushed the Solyndra loan out the door without due diligence, ignored the company’s significant financial problems, and illegally gave investors first dibs over taxpayers in collecting $75 million loaned to the company in early 2011.
The Committee developed this case in several briefing memos (Sep. 12, Sep. 23, Oct. 12, Nov. 17) and published collections of supporting emails and documentation (here, here, here). Allegations — as yet unproven — have also been raised claiming the DOE loan and taxpayer subordination were political payoffs to George Kaiser, a big-time bundler for Obama’s presidential campaign who was also a major investor in Solyndra.