E-mails suggest Rahm, and maybe Obama, pushed early to spotlight Solyndra amid financial warnings; Update: Obama appointee pushed Solyndra loan — despite conflict of interest with wife’s law firm

posted at 5:26 pm on October 7, 2011 by Allahpundit

We already knew that people in the White House were rushing OMB in August 2009 to approve Solyndra’s half-billion-dollar loan so that The One could get his all-important green jobs/stimulus photo op at the plant. Some OMB analysts complained at the time, in fact, that the time pressure might affect the diligence with which the loan was being reviewed. Oh well. What we didn’t know was who in the White House was pressuring them. Over to you, WaPo:

White House staff discussed in emails that either President Obama or his former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel were eager to help spotlight a solar company in early 2009, despite numerous internal warnings that the company could be financially unstable, according to new e-mails…

“Ron said this morning that the POTUS definitely wants to do this (orRahm definitely wants the POTUS to do this ?),” one White House staffer told an Obama scheduler on Aug. 17, 2009…

The emails also show that the Department of Energy was told by the Treasury Deparment its refinancing arrangement for the Solyndra loan in early 2011 might be improper and should be cleared with the Department of Justice…

“In February, we requested in writing that DOE seek the Department of Justice’s approval of any proposed restructuring,” Mary Miller, assistant secretary wrote in a August 17, 2011 memo to OMB deputy chief Jeffrey Zients. “To our knowledge that never happened.”

Remember, according to a Congressional Research Service report, it was already apparent by the time the loan was approved in September 2009 that changes in the polysilicon market meant that Solyndra had lost its key competitive advantage over foreign firms. That was ignored; OMB’s misgivings about being rushed were ignored; and later, according to the blockquote above, the question of whether the ill-fated loan restructuring to keep the company afloat might be illegal was also ignored. How much negligence do we need here before we can call it gross recklessness?

Update: But wait, it gets worse.

An elite Obama fundraiser hired to help oversee the administration’s energy loan program pushed and prodded career Department of Energy officials to move faster in approving a loan guarantee for Solyndra, even as his wife’s law firm was representing the California solar company, according to internal emails made public late Friday.

“How hard is this? What is he waiting for?” wrote Steven J. Spinner, a high-tech consultant and energy investor who raised at least $500,000 for the candidate before being appointed to a key job helping oversee the energy loan guarantee program. “I have OVP [the Office of the Vice President] and WH [the White House] breathing down my neck on this.”

The emails occurred less than two weeks after Spinner received a three-page ethics agreement in which he pledges he will “not participate in any discussion regarding any application involving [his wife’s law firm] Wilson [Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati].”

Funny thing: ABC published a report about Spinner last week to which Jay Carney replied that, to the best of the White House’s knowledge, Spinner had no input on the green loans program. According to today’s e-mails, though, not only was Spinner evidently in contact with the White House — including Biden’s office! — about Solyndra, he corresponded directly with Solyndra’s VP of marketing. I can’t wait for the inevitable next round of e-mails in which we find out precisely what the people in Biden’s office were telling him.

Exit question: Spinner’s going to make a nifty fall guy, isn’t he?

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