Freshman Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) has a name that sounds more like a law firm — and that’s appropriate to keep in mind in this clip from today’s House hearing on Solyndra. Griffith, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on oversight and investigations, grills the Department of Energy’s Jonathan Silver about the decision to subordinate taxpayer investment in Solyndra to a new investor, Argonaut, as the green-tech firm was failing. Griffith points out that Congress made clear that taxpayer funds for green-energy loans were not to be subordinated to other investors in case of bankruptcy and demands to know why Silver and the Obama administration disregarded it. Silver responds that the DoE needed to use all tools it could to attempt to salvage the company to protect taxpayer funds — and Griffith pounces at the answer:
Even as the DoE knew that Solyndra was going under, they still decided to backstop Argonaut in order to get George Kaiser to throw away $75 million more in an attempt to keep Solyndra from circling the drain — all of which Kaiser will recover before taxpayers see a dime, thanks to the DoE’s subordination of taxpayers in bankruptcy position. Silver also makes two other key admissions in this clip. First, the DoE knew as early as late July that Solyndra would go under, but apparently made no attempt at all to tell Congress, which was at the time demanding the DoE’s records on the loan and their involvement in it. Second, Silver also admits that the very market conditions that the DoE and White House have used as an excuse for Solyndra’s collapse were just as evident in January as in July. Yet it seems that the DoE did nothing to back taxpayers away from the sinkhole.
In fact, as Silver admits, those conditions were well known for years, even prior to approving the Solyndra loan. If that’s true, then why did Obama and his team sink $535 million in taxpayer dollars into Solyndra in the first place? Because the Bush administration, despite allegations from Democrats today, took a pass on Solyndra when it came time to actually approving a loan:
But GOP officials disputed that the Bush administration was willing to go along with a loan guarantee for Solyndra, noting that a Department of Energy committee voted against offering a conditional commitment to Solyndra in January 2009. The committee said the deal was premature and questioned its underlying financial support, said Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida, chaiman of the investigative panel for the Energy and Commerce Committee.
So who did give the OK for the redistribution? Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) can’t get Silver to say:
“You’re the driver, Mr. Silver. You’re the driver.”