Obama administration rejects House subpoena on Solyndra

posted at 2:45 pm on November 5, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

When Barack Obama got asked about the loss of $535 million in taxpayer-guaranteed loans in the Solyndra collapse, he told ABC that he thought it had been a “good bet.”  Now that the House wants the executive branch to produce documents relating to how Obama came to that conclusion, it looks like the taxpayers who thought that Obama’s promises of transparency were a good bet are in for further disappointment:

The White House counsel refused Friday to comply with a subpoena as issued by a House panel regarding the failed solar energy company Solyndra, saying that the initiative “was driven more by partisan politics than a legitimate effort to conduct a responsible investigation.”

Kathryn Ruemmler expressed her views in a letter to Reps. Fred Upton and Cliff Stearns, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. A day earlier, one of its subcommittees requested internal documents regarding the government’s decision to issue more than half a billion dollars in federal loan guarantees in 2010 to Solyndra, which later filed for bankruptcy.

The White House counsel on Friday did not rule out disclosing additional information related to Solyndra, saying that “we remain willing to work with the committee to accommodate its legitimate oversight interests in a balanced manner.”

At the same time, Ruemmler said unequivocally that the subpoena, as written, was unacceptable.

“The committee’s extremely broad request for documents — now a subpoena — is a significant intrusion on executive branch interests,” Ruemmler wrote.

Well, that’s the funny thing about subpoenas.  The people on whom they are served aren’t really the arbiters of whether they’re significant enough to comply with them, nor do their opinions on the motivations behind them matter much, either.  If the subpoenas are valid, then a court will uphold them — and failure to comply will result in contempt of court charges, as well as potential contempt of Congress citations.

Maybe Ruemmler missed a memo on this, but taxpayers lost more than a half-billion dollars on Obama’s “good bet.”  On top of that, the Department of Energy broke the law by subordinating taxpayer interest in the firm to that of a later investor — who just happened to be one of Obama’s campaign bundlers, George Kaiser.  Kaiser will get some of that  investment out of Solyndra, while taxpayers will get nothing from the $535 million loss.

Obama promised a new era of transparency.  Now, suddenly, this White House doesn’t want to produce its records on what looks suspiciously like an attempt to use taxpayer dollars to support the business interests of a key campaign fundraiser, which then resulted in illegal action to protect that fundraiser’s investments.  The use of executive privilege in a case involving a big-time Democratic donor stinks to high heaven, and the Obama administration’s willingness to go to the mat in order to hide the records speaks volumes about the damage they believe will come with full disclosure.

What is the White House hiding?  Why don’t they want sunlight on Solyndra?

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Mark Levin nailed this: a subpoena is a subpoena. You can’t pick and choose or dismiss them as partisan.

AshleyTKing on November 5, 2011 at 2:49 PM

There are no scandals surrounding this most opaque administration !

Sandybourne on November 5, 2011 at 2:52 PM

the Obama administration’s willingness to go to the mat in order to hide the records speaks volumes about the damage they believe will come with full disclosure.

This.

petefrt on November 5, 2011 at 2:53 PM

Use this as a lesson about your neighbors. If they still can’t bring themselves to remove the O campaign sticker from their vehicle – it goes without saying…

ericdijon on November 5, 2011 at 2:54 PM

Wow, I’ll have to remember that if I’m ever handed a subpoena. Just refuse it!

ctmom on November 5, 2011 at 2:54 PM

If Boner was on the ball – he’d now start pushing for info on:

Light Squared
First Solar
SunPower
Prologis

And the balance of the dirty, targeted, “Green” loans and pay-offs.

He won’t….but he should.

Tim_CA on November 5, 2011 at 2:55 PM

So can Boehner just defund the DOE?

ctmom on November 5, 2011 at 2:55 PM

Down Twinkles

txmomof6 on November 5, 2011 at 2:56 PM

But ‘I did everything right’…
-

RalphyBoy on November 5, 2011 at 2:57 PM

Subpoena: Compliance is optional for the most historical administration, evah.

Obama drops Reagan, tries to run with Nixon:

Less than three weeks later the Court issued its decision. The justices struggled to write an opinion that all eight could agree to. The stakes were so high, in that the tapes most likely contained evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the President and his men, that they wanted no dissent. All contributed to the opinion and Chief Justice Burger delivered the unanimous decision. After ruling that the Court could indeed resolve the matter and that Jaworski had proven a “sufficient likelihood that each of the tapes contains conversations relevant to the offenses charged in the indictment,” the Court went to the main issue of executive privilege. The Court rejected Nixon’s claim to “an absolute, unqualified Presidential privilege of immunity from judicial process under all circumstances.” [US v. Nixon]

BobMbx on November 5, 2011 at 2:58 PM

The refusal tells us volumes. A more corrupt gang of traitors has never darkened the White House. And where I ask is the outrage coming from, sure not anyone on the left? How about the MSM? Nah no outrage there, they print one story on Obama corruption for every fifty, Cain is a sexual harasser, and then only in guarded comments. We are being played, cheated, robbed, and eventually killed. We should be out in mass in the streets of Washington demanding the corrupt be thrown in jail, but we wont.

jainphx on November 5, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Does this place this admin in contempt of court ?
Again ?
What’s next ?

pambi on November 5, 2011 at 3:00 PM

ctmom: Boehner (more specifically the House of Representatives) certainly can defund the DoE.

They won’t, but they can. This, IMO, makes them complicit to some degree.

Scott H on November 5, 2011 at 3:04 PM

The only reason we’re hiding this is because we have nothing to hide. See, we’re still the most transparent administration evah.

hawkdriver on November 5, 2011 at 3:04 PM

Presidents who play Hide and Seek never win.

Ask Richard Nixon.

portlandon on November 5, 2011 at 3:05 PM

Don’t expect any action from John Boehner,he is in the same DC inside the beltway cronies club.

Sandybourne on November 5, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Change.

visions on November 5, 2011 at 3:07 PM

Most transparently corrupt administration ever.

rbj on November 5, 2011 at 3:09 PM

What is the White House hiding? Why don’t they want sunlight on Solyndra?

Because sunlight is a dis-infectant.

SHARPTOOTH on November 5, 2011 at 3:10 PM

Well, that’s the funny thing about subpoenas. The people on whom they are served aren’t really the arbiters of whether they’re significant enough to comply with them, nor do their opinions on the motivations behind them matter much, either. If the subpoenas are valid, then a court will uphold them — and failure to comply will result in contempt of court charges, as well as potential contempt of Congress citations.

These guys apparently think that they are above the law or something.

ted c on November 5, 2011 at 3:12 PM

Taxpayers need a rape free zone.

pedestrian on November 5, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Boehner and the establishment crew are now making noises of accepting tax increases from the “super committee” Did anyone think he would do otherwise? Our only chance at true freedom, with morals, is to eliminate the establishment scum. Term limits is the only way to prevent entrenched scum from making the rules and passing anti freedom laws. Senators should be appointed by the states, as the constitution once called for, and just for one term. Representatives should be limited to two terms. We now have 12 house members with thirty years, two with 25, eight with 20, 50 with 15. The Senate is worse.

jainphx on November 5, 2011 at 3:14 PM

This is Great.
Pound Mr. Transparency on this up to 2012.

This subpoena fight might also make the CNN’s, MSNBC”s and national networks have to actually cover this.

The more people look into what this fight is about…the more they will learn about Obama’s pay to play cronyism at the taxpayers expense.

Democrats know that this looks so bad that even the MSM is going to have a hard time spinning it in their favor.

Baxter Greene on November 5, 2011 at 3:15 PM

What is the White House hiding? Why don’t they want sunlight on Solyndra?

we apparently aren’t smart enough to realize the intelligence and gravitas required for such a successful “investment”….

ted c on November 5, 2011 at 3:15 PM

This subpoena fight might also make the CNN’s, MSNBC”s and national networks have to actually cover this.

Baxter Greene on November 5, 2011 at 3:15 PM

Hey Bax – re-read that line and try not laugh!

Tim_CA on November 5, 2011 at 3:20 PM

Call me naive, but is a subpoena actually something that can refuse? Where’s cyber cipher’s collie to tell us that he thinks that you can’t refuse a subpoena?

ted c on November 5, 2011 at 3:22 PM

I can only go so far before my hypocrisy meter kicks in. We generally cheered when Bush officials rejected Congressional subpoenas from the Dems in Congress.

The Solyndra mess stinks to high heaven, but rejecting Congressional subpoenas has been pretty common since the 1970s.

AngusMc on November 5, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Mark Levin nailed this: a subpoena is a subpoena. You can’t pick and choose or dismiss them as partisan.

AshleyTKing on November 5, 2011 at 2:49 PM

Well, you know, those rules only apply to the little people.

UltimateBob on November 5, 2011 at 3:27 PM

they can fight a subpoena. they can ask a court to review whether it is illegal or vague. but they cannot ignore it. if pushed further, something will happen.

kelley in virginia on November 5, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Now that’s transparency.

I can see right through it!

listens2glenn on November 5, 2011 at 3:28 PM

This whole Solar power/Green energy is now being supported by a new tactic of the lefties/greenies that I just heard about (sorry we don’t get much news here in Possum Holler).

Now, they are trying to get in the mainstream conversation that DRILLING and EXPLORATION for OIL and NATURAL GAS (and pretty much anything we extract from the ground) is…..

……LEADING TO MORE EARTHQUAKES.

I actually had a relative today ask me if I thought this earthquake in Oklahoma this morning (have relatives there) was related to all the drilling going on there.

I tried to explain to her that they have earthquakes in far away places, Fiji, Chile, hundreds of miles off the coast of anything and that explanation was met with silence.

Not to mention why did we have these great earthquakes before the 1850′s when oil started to gain prominence, etc.

SUV’s are killing the planet, and DRILLING for the Oil that eventuallly powers them is also now killing the planet.

You just cannot talk to these Obama supporters anymore they have let all common sense be thrown out the window.

PappyD61 on November 5, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Subpoena, schmubpoena.

The Obama is above the law, you silly little Congressman.

novaculus on November 5, 2011 at 3:29 PM

the issue here is whether the point was to make the WH reject the subpoena so that we can all say “wow, they must be hiding something” or whether Congress really wants to see the documents & prosecute somebody.

kelley in virginia on November 5, 2011 at 3:29 PM

Transparency! Guilty!

yubley on November 5, 2011 at 3:30 PM

they can fight a subpoena. they can ask a court to review whether it is illegal or vague. but they cannot ignore it. if pushed further, something will happen.

kelley in virginia on November 5, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Attorney General of the NEXT administration?

listens2glenn on November 5, 2011 at 3:31 PM

I detest – detest – this administration and the 53 million fools who voted for it.

Dopenstrange on November 5, 2011 at 3:33 PM

You know, the last time I checked, a subpoena was a legal document where the general contents of it happened to fit snugly in the range of “written in stone”.

So where this tool Ruemmler thinks she has the authorization to tell Congress, in so many words, to stick their subpoena in that special region where the sun shines not indicates either blatant arrogance, or a total disregard for the rule of law, or the WH seriously is scared out if its wits about the truth about Solyndra being brought out in the open for all to see.

Either way, the House Energy and Commerce Committee had better move fast on this thing and let Ruemmler know in rather strong terms that any BS on her part is not going to cut it and she better start coughing up the requested documents and she better do it yesterday if she knows what’s good for her!

pilamaye on November 5, 2011 at 3:35 PM

anybody on HotAir from Va’s Fighting Ninth Congressional District? your congressman, Morgan Griffith (R), is on this committee. call him to show your support for the Keystone pipeline (only @ 100,000 jobs) & this subpoena. Cong. Griffith is a good man–he is on our side.

kelley in virginia on November 5, 2011 at 3:40 PM

” I am not a crook. “

viking01 on November 5, 2011 at 3:45 PM

If Nixon’s administration was required to disclose records about a purely political event like Watergate, then Obama has no excuse. What’s good for the goose, girlfriend….

leftnomore on November 5, 2011 at 3:46 PM

Hey,,come on now,,”They won”. That means they can do anything they want. They are smarter than us and if we know what is good for us,,we will just let them run the show and take care of us. I feel so much better.

retiredeagle on November 5, 2011 at 3:46 PM

The DC court has already ruled on this.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/01/us/01subpoena.html%3Fn%3DTop/Reference/Times%2520Topics/People/R/Rove,%2520Karl
If Bush can’t claim immunity, neither can this corruptocrat.

pat on November 5, 2011 at 3:52 PM

saying that the initiative “was driven more by partisan politics than a legitimate effort to conduct a responsible investigation.”

Watergate.

chemman on November 5, 2011 at 3:53 PM

Ah, the old under penalty subpoena but without being under penalty subpoena trick! – Maxwell Smart

viking01 on November 5, 2011 at 3:53 PM

Obama administration rejects House subpoena on Solyndra

I think this sets an excellent precedent for the next time a republican president faces a democrat house of congress.

jaime on November 5, 2011 at 3:56 PM

Regarding subpoenas, the general rule is that you can’t just ignore one. If you think it is unenforceable for any reason, you have to file a motion to quash. But conflicts between the Executive and the Legislative branches over congressional subpoena compliance raise separation of powers issues. The whole area is up for grabs, from a legal standpoint. Most recently, Congress has attempted to use the DOJ to enforce compliance by criminal contempt proceedings, with predictable results, as the DOJ is an Executive Branch office. They have also sought relief in the federal court system, and the courts have found they do have jurisdiction, but the most recent cases don’t actually resolve much.

Here is one view, arguing that Congress is wrong to resort to the Judicial branch, and should use its inherent powers:

http://scholarship.law.cornell.ed/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1020&context=facpub

novaculus on November 5, 2011 at 3:57 PM

I can’t wait to see what jackasses Mr. and Mrs. O make of themselves during the three month lame duck period, after they’re booted to the curb by Independent voters who have come to their senses. Maybe Michelle will wear a baseball glove at the inauguration, so that no one can read her lips, though they’ll still see the steam coming out of her ears.

ardenenoch on November 5, 2011 at 3:58 PM

they’ll still see the steam coming out of her ears.

ardenenoch on November 5, 2011 at 3:58 PM

It will be sweet! I predict an awful lot of middle-finger nose scratching from li’l bammie……!!

Tim_CA on November 5, 2011 at 4:02 PM

“I am not a crook.” – Barack Milhous Obama

Django on November 5, 2011 at 4:12 PM

If the subpoenas are valid, then a court will uphold them — and failure to comply will result in contempt of court charges, as well as potential contempt of Congress citations.

Two questions:

1) So? and

2) So?

To paraphrase the world’s most famous liberal: “Congress and the Supreme Court! How many divisions have they got?”

logis on November 5, 2011 at 4:18 PM

The DC court has already ruled on this.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/01/us/01subpoena.html%3Fn%3DTop/Reference/Times%2520Topics/People/R/Rove,%2520Karl
If Bush can’t claim immunity, neither can this corruptocrat.

pat on November 5, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Two interesting points from Pat’s post:

#1) Democrats Patrick Leahy and John Conyers statements following the decision above:

Democrats in Congress issued statements in which they claimed victory and said they looked forward to hearing from the appropriate White House officials.

“I have long pointed out that this administration’s claims of executive privilege and immunity, which White House officials have used to justify refusing to even show up when served with Congressional subpoenas, are wrong,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Leahy’s counterpart in the House, Representative John Conyers Jr., had a similar reaction. “Today’s landmark ruling is a ringing reaffirmation of the fundamental principle of checks and balances and the basic American idea that no person is above the law,” said Mr. Conyers, a Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

And #2) According to the article, this process could end up running for months, including into next year, which Obama might not be too excited about—unless, of course the records are severely damaging and Politico thinks there’s something to the story.

Rovin on November 5, 2011 at 4:28 PM

“I am not a crock.”

Shy Guy on November 5, 2011 at 4:53 PM

It’s 1972 all over again. Take any text from the Senate Watergate Hearings, and substitute Solyndra for Watergate, and we are in the same situation. Eric Holder is Obama’s John Mitchell. Who are his Erlichman, Haldeman, and Dean?

Congress needs to investigate this case “fast and furious”.

simkeith on November 5, 2011 at 5:14 PM

Either way, the House Energy and Commerce Committee had better move fast on this thing and let Ruemmler know in rather strong terms that any BS on her part is not going to cut it and she better start coughing up the requested documents and she better do it yesterday if she knows what’s good for her!

pilamaye on November 5, 2011 at 3:35 PM

I’m sure Weepin’ John Boehner is putting top men (do you hear? TOP. MEN.!) to work on this.

Yup. Definitely. Expect action any year now….

Of course our punditocracy is saying “what are they maybe, possibly, hiding?” and making aggressive tsk-tsk noises in the SCoaMF’s general direction, not daring to utter the Dreaded I-Word. Wouldn’t be seemly or Good Optics to make President Historic First© abide by the same laws that govern everyone else, would it?

MrScribbler on November 5, 2011 at 5:17 PM

On top of that, the Department of Energy broke the law by subordinating taxpayer interest in the firm to that of a later investor — who just happened to be one of Obama’s campaign bundlers, George Kaiser. Kaiser will get some of that investment out of Solyndra, while taxpayers will get nothing from the $535 million loss.

Ya know, I’m wondering – beyond the obvious ‘contempt’ and ‘abuse of power’ angles to this – about this quoted aspect of the deal.

In contract law, if the contract is illegal in some way, then its void and unenforceable (as I recall). It seems there’s a case to be made here that if the subordination of taxpayers was illegal, then… it didn’t happen; whatever agreement was made to that effect doesn’t stand. Maybe?

Midas on November 5, 2011 at 5:20 PM

” I am not a crook. “

viking01 on November 5, 2011 at 3:45 PM

“I am not a dork” –B.H. Obama

john1schn on November 5, 2011 at 5:24 PM

In contract law, if the contract is illegal in some way, then its void and unenforceable (as I recall). It seems there’s a case to be made here that if the subordination of taxpayers was illegal, then… it didn’t happen; whatever agreement was made to that effect doesn’t stand. Maybe?

Midas on November 5, 2011 at 5:20 PM

That’s the way it works in government contracting. If an action is taken that violates the FAR’s (Federal Acquisition Regulations), that action is deemed void and any funds paid as a result of that invalid contract clause must be refunded to the government. Seems pretty simple here, the re-negotiation that suborned taxpayer interests to the Obama supporter is illegal and therefore unenforceable. Therefore, no payout to him first.

AZfederalist on November 5, 2011 at 5:27 PM

OK, this isn’t just corrupt crony capitalism (socialism to be more accurate) but it is straight up criminal right? Seriously, no way this should be even remotely legal.

Yakko77 on November 5, 2011 at 5:31 PM

It is “below the fold” on Fox and you cannot find it at all on CNN.

“Nothing to see here!”

Old Dog on November 5, 2011 at 5:50 PM

If the subpoenas are valid, then a court will uphold them — and failure to comply will result in contempt of court charges, as well as potential contempt of Congress citations.

Okay, Boner, that’s your cue. Take it to court for enforcement and let the contempt charges roll.

petefrt on November 5, 2011 at 5:58 PM

Wonder if Jonathan Alder’s opinion on administration scandals has changed?

GarandFan on November 5, 2011 at 6:14 PM

Frankly, I’d be amazed if the House actually has enough staff to handle all of the cr@p this admin throws their way !!
Hmmm … Isn’t there some page in Rules for Radicals about that ??

pambi on November 5, 2011 at 6:34 PM

odumbo is nothing more than a thug and a liar.

ultracon on November 5, 2011 at 6:47 PM

he told ABC that he thought it had been a “good bet.”

It was a good bet. Remember, under his plan, electricity prices would “necessarily skyrocket”. Had he succeeded with cap & trade and other measures, prices would have skyrocketed, solar power would be economically competitive, and Solyndra would have been a gold mine.

Fortunately,his plan failed. Fortunate except for all the money being lost in the misadventure.

taznar on November 5, 2011 at 7:38 PM

Welcome to the most secretive administration in history.

sadatoni on November 5, 2011 at 8:28 PM

During the Nixon years, I seem to remember something called “Contempt of Congress.”

Mr. Grump on November 5, 2011 at 8:35 PM

All snark aside, I can’t comprehend how I could possibly have any less respect for this president or administration than I do right now. Really, how low can they go?

EA_MAN on November 5, 2011 at 10:16 PM

Looks like Obama inherited another thing from a Republican president—
“I am not a crook!”

Herb on November 6, 2011 at 6:58 AM

‘rejects the subpoena’?! Must be nice to be able to refuse to obeyu the law whenever it doen’s suit you! This is just proof that Obama is guilty as the day is long and up to his eyeballs in cronysim, fraud, and wasting tax payer dollars! What a pathetic excuse for a President!

easyt65 on November 6, 2011 at 9:16 AM

You just cannot talk to these Obama supporters anymore they have let all common sense be thrown out the window.

PappyD61 on November 5, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Totally Agree!! Have cut off all communication with Democrats and this includes family members who seem to have turned Communist in the past few years! Our hope lies in the court system and the ballot box. The death grip on the economy by tax and spend Democrat communists must be broken at every level of elective office. Obama and his supporter have infested every level of government from local offices to Washington!! The Obama administration is a criminal enterprise and his supporters are intentionally trying to destroy the U.S.!! Remember in November!!!

Marco on November 6, 2011 at 10:01 AM