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?