The Solyndra scandal took a big step up the ladder today, as ABC News uncovers new evidence that shows fears over a collapse reached all the way into the West Wing. An OMB analyst tried to raise red flags on the Obama administration’s attempt to rescue the now-bankrupt green-tech firm, before the Department of Energy rejected her advice and restructured the loans in March 2011, which illegally subordinated taxpayers in case of default. An e-mail from Kelly Colyar in August 2011 reminded recipients that she had predicted that very scenario — and that White House chief of staff had been briefed on her warning in February, before the restructuring:
Buried in the treasure trove of White House emails related to Solyndra released Thursday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee is one suggesting that concerns about Solyndra’s viability were shared all the way up to then-White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley a full six months before the company went bust. …
As Solyndra began sinking for good last August, Colyar sent an email summarizing the events leading to a near total taxpayers loss of the $535 loan.
“You may recall that DOE announced in March that they had restructured the Solyndra loan,” Colyar writes. “Prior to this restructuring, OMB staff expressed reservations about the prospects of the company and DOE’s proposal.”
And here’s the key line: “The issue was discussed with the NEC and the Chief of Staff.”
Oh, my. Until now, the closest this has come to Barack Obama himself was yesterday’s revelation that Rahm Emanuel — Daley’s predecessor — came up with the brilliant idea to tie his boss personally to Solyndra. Emanuel may or may not have been aware that Obama bundler George Kaiser had a significant investment in Solyndra, but I’m guessing he knew that all too well. When Solyndra imploded, Emanuel’s advice ended up backfiring on Obama and leaving him open to charges of crony capitalism.
This, however, is much more serious. This is the first time Obama’s inner circle has been tied to the restructuring and its illegal subordination of those taxpayer loans. If Daley was briefed on the details of that restructuring before it got put in place and it still went forward, one can infer that Daley didn’t raise any objections to it. It’s hard to imagine that Daley would have gone out on that limb without getting approval from the man to whom he directly reported — Barack Obama.
Even without the illegality in subordinating taxpayers, this is still very bad news for Obama. The decision to move forward cost taxpayers an addition $380 million. Did Obama give the personal OK to put that much more at risk on an already-failing company? Again, it’s very difficult to imagine that Daley was making those kinds of calls without checking in with the boss.