Committee Leaders to White House: Time to Quit Stonewalling on Solyndra

February 9, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton joined every Republican member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in urging full White House compliance related to the Committee's subpoenas on Solyndra.  Despite repeated attempts by the Committee to accommodate the White House, the White House has turned over only 515 pages of internal West Wing Solyndra communications since the subpoenas were issued nearly 100 days ago on November 3, 2011. The Committee also highlighted the White House's extensive delays in a memorandum attached to the letter.  

Upon sending the letter to the White House, Chairman Upton stated, "Despite our repeated overtures for cooperation, the White House continues to stall, refusing to turn over documents and blocking key staff from speaking to our investigators. Despite the "˜who's who' of West Wing names involved with Solyndra, White House lawyers continue to delay and deny even the most basic information about the White House's involvement in the loan guarantee gone wrong, underscoring the disappointing reality of President Obama's broken promises on transparency. We have exercised extraordinary patience, making reasonable accommodations every step of the way as we investigate the risky half a billion dollar bet that ultimately ended with 1,000 people losing their jobs and taxpayers left holding the bill. But we cannot fix the problem without fully understanding the root cause. Whether the Solyndra mess is the result of crony capitalism or gross incompetence, American taxpayers deserve answers as well as the peace of mind that Congress will ensure it never happens again."

Rep. Cliff Stearns, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations added, "It has been nearly five months since the Committee first requested White House documents relating to the Solyndra loan guarantee, and almost three months since these documents were subpoenaed. American taxpayers have a right to know of the White House's involvement in the Solyndra loan guarantee and how $535 million in taxpayer funds were put at risk. The White House also has a Constitutional obligation to cooperate with this oversight investigation."

The Committee members identified several specific unanswered questions in their letter - questions that are fundamental to the investigation into Solyndra's loan guarantee:

  • What was the extent of the White House's involvement in the restructuring of the Solyndra loan guarantee in late 2010 and early 2011 (and the related subordination of the taxpayer's money to two private investors)?
  • Was the White House aware that OMB and Treasury had questioned the advisability of the restructuring?
  • Who instructed Solyndra to delay its announcement of job layoffs until after the 2010 midterm elections?
  • Who made the decision that such a directive should be given to Solyndra? 
  • What was the extent of the White House's involvement in the discussion relating to that issue?
  • Why did a relatively small company like Solyndra receive so much attention from the White House, including discussions by many of the most senior advisers to the President?
  • How did this high level of White House attention affect the management of the 1705 loan guarantee program?
  • What factors contributed to the White House's decision to go forward with a presidential visit to Solyndra's manufacturing facilities in May 2010?

In the letter to White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler and Counsel to the Vice President Cynthia Hogan, the Committee members write, "Only documents and information currently in the possession of the White House will allow the Committee to fully answer these questions.  Without this information, the Committee cannot complete its investigation.  Further, your office's failure to comply with the Committee's requests will prevent both Congress and the executive branch from learning lessons that might improve the operations of the DOE Loan Guarantee Program, prevent further losses of taxpayer money, and inform the drafting of legislation that will address these matters."

In addition to withholding documents, the White House has shielded key administration staff closely involved with Solyndra from investigators. The Committee is requesting that the following executive branch employees be made available by February 17, 2012, or the committee will pursue subpoenas for their testimony:

  • Kevin Carroll, Energy Branch Chief, OMB
  • Kelly Colyar, Branch Chief, OMB
  • Fouad Saad, Program Examiner, OMB
  • Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change
  • Aditya Kumar, Deputy Assistant to the Vice President and Senior Advisor to then White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel

The Committee members conclude, "Without your complete compliance with the subpoenas by February 21, you will compel us to pursue all options available to the Committee under its rules and the rules of the United States House of Representatives to address such obstructive behavior.  We are fully prepared to do so."

A copy of the Committee letter to the White House can be found HERE.

A copy of the Committee's proposed prioritization of document requests presented to the White House can be found HERE.

A copy of the Committee memo chronicling the White House's repeated delays can be found HERE

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