Blockbuster: Obama administration pressured Solyndra to delay layoffs for political gain

posted at 12:10 pm on November 15, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

The Washington Post broke this story earlier this morning.  Does anyone want to argue that Solyndra isn’t a scandal now?

The Obama administration urged officers of the struggling solar company Solyndra to postpone announcing planned layoffs until after the November 2010 midterm elections, newly released e-mails show. …

Solyndra’s chief executive warned the Energy Department on Oct. 25, 2010, that he intended to announce worker layoffs Oct. 28. He said he was spurred by numerous calls from reporters and potential investors about rumors the firm was in financial trouble and was planning to lay off workers and close one of its two plants.

But in an Oct. 30, 2010, e-mail, advisers to Solyndra’s primary investor, Argonaut Equity, explain that the Energy Department had strongly urged the company to put off the layoff announcement until Nov. 3. The midterm elections were held Nov. 2, and led to Republicans taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“DOE continues to be cooperative and have indicated that they will fund the November draw on our loan (app. $40 million) but have not committed to December yet,” a Solyndra investor adviser wrote Oct. 30. “They did push very hard for us to hold our announcement of the consolidation to employees and vendors to Nov. 3rd – oddly they didn’t give a reason for that date.”

Yeah — that’s odd, isn’t it?  The DoE requested that a privately-held corporation withhold important financial information from investors until the day after a national election.  But that’s just a coincidence … right?  Riiiiiiiiiiiiight.

This means that the DoE knew that Solyndra had begun to fail, and that the cash they provided as part of Barack Obama’s job stimulus wouldn’t actually create jobs.  In fact, it wasn’t even going to save jobs.  And yet the DoE not only succeeded in pressuring Solyndra into hiding that fact from the public and their investors, this sequence makes it look as though the Obama administration used the $40 million in loans as a bribe to keep Solyndra from making its layoff announcement in a timely manner.  [See update.]

Guess where this thread leads?  Right to the White House:

On Oct. 25, 2010, Solyndra chief executive Brian Harrison e-mailed the energy department’s loan staff to explain that Solyndra “has received some press inquiries about rumors of problems (one of them with quite accurate information) and we have received in bound calls from potential investors. Both of these data points indicate the story is starting to leak outside Solyndra.”

Harrison went on to state that he would “like to go forward with the internal communication [to employees regarding layoffs] on Thursday, October 28.”

Harrison’s e-mail was forwarded to program director, Jonathan Silver, who then alerted White House climate change czar Carol Browner and Vice President Biden’s point person on stimulus, Ron Klain. Browner asked for more information about the announcement, and Chu’s chief of staff explained he had left a voicemail message on her cellphone.

So who ordered Solyndra to keep quiet?  Was it the “climate-change czar”? Was it the Vice President?  Or did it go higher than that?  It’s time to start getting all of these people under oath in Congress and start preparing a criminal investigation.

Update: Solyndra is not a publicly-traded company, which means that there would be no legal requirement for the company to disclose the layoffs in terms of selling stock.  However, Solyndra and the DoE were actively seeking investors at this time to keep the company from failing, as earlier documents have disclosed.  In the end, they got George Kaiser and his investment group to put another $75 million into Solyndra by illegally subordinating taxpayers in the event of collapse.

Update II: I forgot to delete “publicly-traded” from the post in the first update; it’s fixed now.

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