Solyndra employees speak out about mismanagement and sloppy spending

Could have guessed this. What incentive did Solyndra management have to spend responsibly, with a $535 million government-backed loan in their pockets and a president touting the company as the star of the administration’s efforts to prop up the weak green energy industry? Still, it’s worth it to hear it straight from those who witnessed the profligacy:

A new factory built with public money boasted a gleaming conference room with glass walls that, with the flip of a switch, turned a smoky gray to conceal the room’s occupants. Hastily purchased state-of-the-art equipment ended up being sold for pennies on the dollar, still in its plastic wrap, employees said.

As the $344 million factory went up just down the road from the company’s leased plant in Fremont, Calif., workers watched as pallets of unsold solar panels stacked up in storage. Many wondered: Was the factory needed?

“After we got the loan guarantee, they were just spending money left and right,” said former Solyndra engineer Lindsey Eastburn. “Because we were doing well, nobody cared. Because of that infusion of money, it made people sloppy.” …

With the loan guarantee in hand, Solyndra built a second, seven-acre factory with 19 loading docks. … Workers told The Post in interviews that they were shocked that summer when [Brian] Harrison, newly installed as CEO, told them that sales projections used to justify the new factory to federal agencies had been far too optimistic.

“Obviously their forecasts weren’t correct,” said Peter M. Kohlstadt, a research engineer. “We just didn’t have the sales we thought we had.” …

Kohlstadt said Solyndra’s collapse leaves him doubly affected.

“I’m being hit twice: As a taxpayer, $500 million, where did it go?” he said. “I’m hit a second time: I’m not getting money that is owed to me and the government hasn’t done anything to look out for us.”

Kohlstadt’s quote is right on the money and worth remembering. This scandal matters because we, the taxpayers, are on the hook for the loan.

And it’s looking more and more like Solyndra executives didn’t just suffer from bad business sense. It appears they deliberately misled the administration about the state of the company’s finances as recently as July of this year.

Less than three months before declaring bankruptcy, the federally-backed solar power company Solyndra sent a memo to Congress describing the company as “ramping” up its production, “competitive” with foreign rivals, and “on track” to hit its financial targets for the year.

The document obtained by ABC News, entitled “Exceeding Expectations: Solyndra Today,” now appears to have grossly distorted the company’s actual financial standing at a time when congressional investigators were already asking tough questions about the $535 million in federal backing Solyndra had received.

Since Solyndra sent the document to Congress on June 23, followed by a mid-July letter making more claims about its financial strength, the company has laid off nearly its entire workforce, has declared bankruptcy, and has been raided by the FBI.

As Michelle Malkin put it last night on Hannity, the Solyndra scandal is textbook pay-to-play and, even if nothing criminal occurred, the company’s ties to Obama (a lot of overlap between Solyndra investors and Obama donors!) and its status as the first to receive a government-backed loan reek of the culture of corruption. “I cannot imagine that this will stand in 2012,” she says. “Don’t let it.” Please.