Solyndra pressured Bush WH for approval in January 2009
posted at 11:15 am on September 17, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
The national media seems to be taking a greater interest in the Solyndra scandal lately. MSNBC may not be talking about it, but the Associated Press had a good rundown of the story yesterday. The article put the scandal in sharp and explicit perspective in the lead paragraph:
The Obama administration restructured a half-billion dollar federal loan to a troubled solar energy company in such a way that private investors — including a fundraiser for President Barack Obama — moved ahead of taxpayers for repayment in case of a default, government records show. …
Since then, the implosion of the company and revelations that the administration hurried Office of Management and Budget officials to finish their review of the loan in time for the September 2009 groundbreaking has become an embarrassment for Obama as he sells his new job-creation program around the country.
An Associated Press review of regulatory filings shows that Solyndra was hemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars for years before the Obama administration signed off on the original $535 million loan guarantee in September 2009. The company eventually got $528 million.
It’s mostly a recap of what we’ve already known, but the AP’s reporting guaranteed that the story would break into thousands of news outlets around the country. Fox News’ White House correspondent Ed Henry adds to the story by presenting more context for the Bush administration’s connections to Solyndra. The Left has insisted that Bush pushed subsidies for Solyndra too and is therefore at least as responsible for the collapse as Obama. Solyndra execs didn’t see it that way in January 2009, Henry reports, and ramped up political pressure to fast-walk approval for the loan guarantees:
Solyndra officials were intensely pressuring Bush administration officials in early January 2009 to approve a government loan for the solar company before the Obama administration took power, according to new emails obtained by Fox News on Friday.
On Jan. 12, 2009, Solyndra CEO Chris Gronet sent an Energy Department official an email marked “urgent” expressing outrage that Bush officials had decided a few days earlier that while the loan application had “merit” it needed further study before officials could move forward with a taxpayer-financed loan.
“I was appalled to learn on Friday that our application is being delayed yet again,” Gronet wrote to Energy official Steve Isakowitz, writing there had been “countless communications” back and forth suggesting the application would be reviewed Jan. 15.
It was urgent — for Solyndra’s executives. The company’s financial footing was already precarious, which is why the Bush administration ended up deciding to wait for an independent market analysis on January 9, 2009. Solyndra execs were irate over the change:
The new emails obtained by Fox News show that on Jan. 12, 2009, Energy officials received several emails from Solyndra officials pressing the department to make a decision and complaining about the Jan. 9 decision to do an independent market analysis.
In a second email from Gronet to Isakowitz on Jan. 12, 2009, the CEO noted he had just been on the phone with another Energy official, David Frantz.
“And I find the response completely unacceptable,” wrote Gronet. “An apology from David is enough.”
Gronet added, “In addition, the rules and conditions keep changing. The impact on Solyndra is severe.”
The next day, Jan. 13, 2009, [Bush DoE official Lachlan] Seward sent his email to Energy Department colleagues saying it was time to stop engaging with Solyndra officials.
Apparently, the Bush administration officials involved caught a whiff of desperation and decided to back away. Too bad Obama administration officials didn’t make the same choice.