Members Call on WH Counsel to Stop Blocking Access to Key Witnesses
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) today pressed the White House to comply with the November 3, 2011,subpoenas for internal Solyndra documents and also make certain employees within the Office of Management and Budget available for interviews. The Committee served subpoenas to the Executive Offices of the President and Vice President in conjunction with its investigation, launched over nine months ago, into the $535 million loan guarantee made by the Department of Energy to now-bankrupt Solyndra under the 2009 stimulus law. To date, the White House has refused to answer basic questions or engage with the Committee regarding the scope of document production, turning over just 136 pages of documents in response to the subpoenas. The Committee is working to learn why every warning sign on Solyndra was ignored, leaving American taxpayers on the hook for the half billion dollar failed jobs program.
In a letter sent today to White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, Chairmen Upton and Stearns write, “(T)he recipient of a duly authorized subpoena from the Congress of the United States cannot simply redefine the scope of the subpoena. It is apparent from the documents already in the Committee’s possession that White House personnel were intimately involved in decisions related to Solyndra and the loan guarantee program. For instance, some of those documents indicate that senior White House advisers such as Larry Summers, Carol Browner, Ron Klain and Valerie Jarrett were all involved in decisions regarding Solyndra and the loan guarantee program. (D)ocuments already in the Committee’s possession clearly indicate that you have numerous other documents in your possession which are responsive to the subpoena, but which have not been produced. In order for the Committee to complete its investigation of the problems with the loan guarantee program and the related loss of taxpayer dollars, those documents must be produced to the Committee.”
The Committee leaders also express concerns regarding the availability of documents on the illegal restructuring of the Solyndra loan guarantee, writing, “In your letter you state: “˜we located several documents that reflect that White House officials had discussions with the DOE about its decisions to restructure the Solyndra loan’. Our staff was able to review these documents in camera on November 15, 2011. But the small handful of documents shown to the staff were from August 2011, not the October 2010 through February 2011 time period during which the administration restructured the Solyndra loan. The restructuring and subordination of the taxpayer’s money is a primary focus of the Committee’s investigation. Certain documents indicate that the White House approved the restructuring of the Solyndra loan and the subordination of the taxpayer’s money.” Committee leaders reiterated their request for production of the specific emails on the list given to the White House at the end of that meeting, requesting the emails by the close of business on Friday, December 2, 2011.
In concluding the letter, Chairmen Upton and Stearns reiterate the Committee’s need to interview specific OMB witnesses, writing, “Finally, the refusal by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to make certain employees available to the Committee for interviews, briefings or hearings is simply unacceptable. As OMB is encompassed within the Executive Office of the President, it is our understanding that the White House Counsel’s office has been involved in the decision to deny the Committee access to those individuals. This refusal is, unfortunately, only the latest in a series of attempts to impede this Committee’s investigation into the loss of half of a billion dollars of taxpayer funds. We had hoped to obtain your cooperation to avoid the need to issue additional subpoenas for testimony. If the White House persists in stonewalling this Committee, however, we will not hesitate to take the necessary steps to ensure that there is no further obstruction of our investigation.”
View the letter to White House Counsel Ruemmler HERE.
View the letter to Ms. Cynthia Hogan, Chief Counsel, Executive Office of the Vice President HERE.