Solyndra execs feasted while taxpayers got roasted; Update: Committee approves subpoena power on Solyndra

posted at 12:05 pm on November 3, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Taxpayers lost $535 million in subsidies to Solyndra, a firm whose main investor was a bundler for Barack Obama and one that Department of Energy auditors warned would fail.  Did Solyndra executives share in the pain?  Not exactly, as the San Jose Mercury News and GreenTechSolar discovered while perusing the bankruptcy documents.  Solyndra execs took home big bonuses while their company collapsed and workers got the heave-ho:

Senior executives at Solyndra collected hefty bonuses — ranging from $37,000 to $60,000 apiece — as the Fremont company bled cash and careened toward bankruptcy this summer.

Bankruptcy documents filed in Delaware earlier this week reveal that more than a dozen senior executives at the defunct solar manufacturing company were awarded sizable quarterly bonuses April 15 and again July 8. Solyndra ceased operations in late August and filed for bankruptcy Sept. 6. About 1,100 employees were laid off without severance pay.

The bonuses, awarded to more than a dozen executives, came on top of what were already highly competitive salaries. Karen Alter, Solyndra’s vice president of marketing, had an annual base salary of $275,000; she was awarded a $55,000 bonus in April and again in July. Ben Bierman, Solyndra’s executive vice president of operations and engineering, had an annual base salary of $300,000; he was awarded $60,000 in April and again in July. Will Stover, the company’s chief financial officer, was also awarded a $60,000 bonus in April and again in July.

Money didn’t just flow to current executives, either.  Former CEO Chris Gronet scored a $456,000 severance package, even though he had led Solyndra to the brink of bankruptcy.  The documents also show that Gronet got tossed out almost two months earlier than Solyndra had indicated in public, leaving open the question of whether they were trying to keep the DoE from noticing the impending collapse.

Even with all of this going on, the White House apparently gave strong consideration to — what else? — a bailout:

Days before Solyndra collapsed, the Obama administration considered a bailout that would have provided an infusion of cash and a new board of directors, including two directors appointed by the Energy Department.

Officials rejected the plan, which was recommended in August by the investment banking firm Lazard. Lazard was paid $1 million for analyzing options related to the faltering Fremont company.

Well, someone had to keep the bonuses flowing to failing executives, right?  The only reason this nugget of information came to light was because of a late-afternoon document dump by the DoE, attempting to get ahead of a flurry of subpoenas that may come from the House today.

It’s not for nothing that the Inspector General at the DoE has now launched 100 criminal investigations into the use of stimulus funds for Obama’s green-tech subsidy boondoggle:

The Energy Department’s inspector general has launched more than 100 criminal investigations related to 2009 economic stimulus spending.

In written testimony prepared for delivery to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today, Inspector General Gregory Friedman said the investigations have involved “various schemes, including the submission of false information, claims for unallowable or unauthorized expenses, and other improper uses of Recovery Act funds.” …

The activity is partially due to the fact that few “shovel ready” projects existed in 2009, Feldman said. “The concept of ‘shovel ready’ projects became a Recovery Act symbol of expeditiously stimulating the economy and creating jobs. In reality, few actual ‘shovel ready’ projects existed,” he said.

The stimulus funding DOE received — more than $35 billion — was greater than previous annual budgets for the entire agency, most notably its $27 billion in funding for fiscal 2011.

To quote Michael Ledeen … faster, please.

Update: The Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigative panel voted to give chair Cliff Stearns the authority to issue subpoenas for the investigation, on a party-line vote:

Showing a growing frustration with the the Obama administration, congressional Republicans on Thursday authorized their second subpoena this week, demanding White House documents related to failed solar technology company Solyndra.

By a 14-9 party-line vote the Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigative subcommittee authorized issuing a subpoena for any White House documents related to Solyndra, which received renewable energy loan guarantees under President Obama’s stimulus program. The request for documents could include details of the president’s own travel and communications.

Democrats said it was “unprecedented” to subpoena documents from the president’s executive office like this, but Republicans said they’ve run out of patience with White House “stalling.”

“We simply cannot allow the executive branch at its highest levels to pick and choose what they will produce, or whether they will produce anything at all,” said Rep. Cliff Stearns, the Florida Republican who runs the investigative panel.

No subpoenas have yet been issued, but Stearns now has a big trump card to play.

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LOL SUBPOENA

Good Lt on November 3, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Good Lt on November 3, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Doesn’t that just make your little blood pumper feel so good? Thank goodness maybe something will get done to hold those responsible?
L

letget on November 3, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Easy to spend “other people´s” Money.
We don´t have a spending problem???

gullxn on November 3, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Does this mean that somebody actually messed with Joe?

DanMan on November 3, 2011 at 12:13 PM

LOL SUBPOENA

Good Lt on November 3, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Fake Scandal! crr6

Del Dolemonte on November 3, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Obama; subsidizing the 1%

lorien1973 on November 3, 2011 at 12:14 PM

SUBPOENA SUBPOENA SUBPOENA!

petefrt on November 3, 2011 at 12:15 PM

The Energy Department’s inspector general has launched more than 100 criminal investigations related to 2009 economic stimulus spending.

Unless Democrats start roting in jail…

… this means nothing.

Seven Percent Solution on November 3, 2011 at 12:17 PM

How is it that I never found such a lucrative position? It must not pay to be honest.

bopbottle on November 3, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Have you seen this article about bho being the worse president since before the civil war? All this krap on solyndra sure isn’t helping him out much either!

http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/11/the_worst_president_since_before_the_civil_war.html
L

letget on November 3, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Solyndra was awarded a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy in 2009, and the company’s implosion has raised numerous questions about the company’s financial health.

Who writes this stuff?

forest on November 3, 2011 at 12:19 PM

We need to keep an eye on all the political donations these crooks have given in the last 4 years, or will be giving in the next election.

rbj on November 3, 2011 at 12:20 PM

“To say they were spending like drunken sailors is unfair to sailors. At least they are spending thier own money!”

-R. Reagan

Texican Ben on November 3, 2011 at 12:22 PM

President Barack Hussein Obama has no scandals. All hail The Obama Miracle©!

FlatFoot on November 3, 2011 at 12:22 PM

What did Obama know and when did he know it?

Liberals want to complain about how this gross mismanagement of taxpayer money and government corruption is somehow a nontroversy?

You’re wrong. The definition of a nontroversy is summed up in two words: Valerie Plame.

Good Lt on November 3, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Solyndra execs took home big bonuses while their company collapsed and workers got the heave-ho

Laser-like focus on jobs, people. Laser-like focus!!!

crazy_legs on November 3, 2011 at 12:26 PM

But Jonathan Alter said that there are no scandals in the Obama administration!

Surely he can’t be wrong. He’s a liberal pundit – not some bumpkin sister-banging neocon from flyover country.

Good Lt on November 3, 2011 at 12:26 PM

Solyndra execs feasted while taxpayers got roasted

“Country toasted while Michelle and Barack boasted”

“Working molested while the moochers protested”

“Middle class fried while freedom died”

“Producers frozen while looters chosen”

Schadenfreude on November 3, 2011 at 12:29 PM

As I wrote earlier, that 456,000 dollar severance bonus would pay the annual salaries of 10 American workers and allow them to pay their mortgages and buy groceries.

But a friend of Zero is way more important than poor people in America who are out of work.

Note President Downgrade: People in glass bunkers shouldnt play class warfare.

And now I hear Zero is going on another lavish vacation, spending a great sum of money.

dogsoldier on November 3, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Democrat politicians light their cigars with taxpayer dollars. They couldn’t care less, as long as they get the kickback to their campaign fund.

Vashta.Nerada on November 3, 2011 at 12:30 PM

We need to keep an eye on all the political donations these crooks have given in the last 4 years, or will be giving in the next election.

rbj on November 3, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Be serious. A sizeable portion of the political contributions for this cycle were funded with your tax dollars.

Vashta.Nerada on November 3, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Officials rejected the plan, which was recommended in August by the investment banking firm Lazard. Lazard was paid $1 million for analyzing options related to the faltering Fremont company.

So, the taxpayers payed a company one million dollars to advise us that we should give 5 billion dollars to a bankrupt company which had never turned a profit and the investment would be subordinated to their other creditors in case of liquidation. Welcome to Obamanation.

tommyboy on November 3, 2011 at 12:34 PM

It might not be enough to subpoena emails and documents. It seems are “transparent President” has taken to putting stuff in “clouds” to avoid FOIA.

http://biggovernment.com/chorner/2011/10/17/breaking-obama-admin-hides-official-ipcc-correspondence-from-foia-using-former-romney-advisor-john-holdren/

journeyintothewhirlwind on November 3, 2011 at 12:38 PM

Senior executives at Solyndra collected hefty bonuses — ranging from $37,000 to $60,000 apiece — as the Fremont company bled cash and careened toward bankruptcy this summer.

That’s going to sit well with Obama’s Whipped-up Sycophants, that’s for darn sure!

Chip on November 3, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Note how the vote to subpoena was along party lines. Any rational person would want to get to the bottom of abuse of taxpayer money. Democrats are not rational so it is puzzling why so many on our side think they can get along with them. Nah, it’s not puzzling at all.

arnold ziffel on November 3, 2011 at 12:44 PM

They’ll figure a way outta’ this, even if they have to “twist” their defense into “it’s all about sex.”

listens2glenn on November 3, 2011 at 12:44 PM

What did Obama know and when did he know it?

Khun Joe on November 3, 2011 at 12:47 PM

We’re better off…..

Yep, ‘we’ are sayeth the top level executives at Fannie Mac and Freddie Mae (hah, ya I know), Goldman’s Sack, Citi, General Eclectic, Chris Dodd, Barney Frank (and friends), and a host of other stalwarts of the economy.

Skandia Recluse on November 3, 2011 at 12:52 PM

Inspector General Gregory Friedman said the investigations have involved “various schemes, including the submission of false information, claims for unallowable or unauthorized expenses, and other improper uses of Recovery Act funds.”

WHERE THE HELL WAS “SHERIFF JOE”?

Or was he also ‘leading from behind’ like Barry?

GarandFan on November 3, 2011 at 12:55 PM

So, can we camp out on their lawns and demand they give the bonuses back?

SKYFOX on November 3, 2011 at 2:00 PM

GarandFan on November 3, 2011 at 12:55 PM

IG launches over 100 criminal investigations re: Stimulus funds! That’s stunning.

txhsmom on November 3, 2011 at 2:07 PM

The timing more likely had to do with the 90 day clawback the Bankrupcy Trustee can exercise on any payments made by the applicant.

pat on November 3, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Another inspector general who will be retired because he is confused.

burt on November 3, 2011 at 3:54 PM

The timing more likely had to do with the 90 day clawback the Bankrupcy Trustee can exercise on any payments made by the applicant.

pat on November 3, 2011 at 2:19 PM

The trustee can go after payments to insiders with one year of the filing.

AcidReflux on November 3, 2011 at 4:00 PM

The pic of Zero on Drudge is hilarious.
To me, anyway.

pambi on November 3, 2011 at 4:07 PM

I hope the thief in chief has one with his name on it

JustJP on November 3, 2011 at 6:40 PM

Update: The Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigative panel voted to give chair Cliff Stearns the authority to issue subpoenas for the investigation, on a party-line vote:

On A Party Line Vote.

This should be the headline in every newspaper in America. But I have a funny feeling it won’t be.

logis on November 3, 2011 at 6:55 PM

Pork, the other white meat. Transparency: It’s what’s for dinner.

hillbillyjim on November 3, 2011 at 7:22 PM

Call me cynical (again) but this will still go nowhere. No executives will be ordered (or even asked) to give back any bonus money, no documents that prove obama was in this up to his neck will ever be released (they no longer exist….what do you think paper shredders were made for?) and no one will ever be held accountable for any of this. Hell, I’m even doubting obama will pay a political price for it. The media will just insist he “tried” in “good faith” but “this is what happens when you give money to corrupt capitalists”. I’m betting I’ll be proven right on all this within days.

runawayyyy on November 4, 2011 at 11:01 AM