Say What?? Lowering the bar on “Merit Based” Decisions …Despite Squandering Half a Billion Dollars, Unapologetic White House Continues to Defend Solyndra Investment as a “Merit Based Decision”

August 2, 2012

This morning the House Energy and Commerce Committee released its findings in an exhaustive, 18-month investigation into the Obama administration’s failed $535 million investment in the now-bankrupt California solar panel maker Solyndra.  Although the facts reveal Solyndra was a bad bet that never should have received taxpayer dollars in the first place, the White House remains defiantly unapologetic.  According to The Hill, when asked about the report, White House Spokesman Eric Schultz stated that it “affirms what we said on day one: this was a merit based decision made by the Department of Energy.” While aboard Air Force One this afternoon, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also echoed the same unapologetic sentiment that Solyndra “was a merit based decision.”

Schultz’s and Carney’s surprisingly out of touch responses comes on the heels of Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal report on Solyndra's chapter 11 plan, that warned, “there’s bad news for U.S. taxpayers: Estimates are $24 million of a $527 million government loan will be repaid, and that’s not a sure thing.”

The alarm bells on Solyndra were ringing loud and clear from day one, and one DOE expert prophetically warned that Solyndra would be out of cash in September 2011, the exact month that the company was raided by the FBI and its doors were shuttered. Among the report’s key findings, the timing of the Solyndra Conditional Commitment was coordinated with the White House, and scheduled before DOE had reached an agreement with the company on key terms.

DOE also sought to do an end run around Treasury before announcing Solyndra’s conditional commitment, ultimately only giving Treasury a day to sign off. What was the rush? The investigation revealed that the timing was driven by the administration's public relations strategy. As full committee Chairman Upton stated, “We now know the first domino of the Solyndra mess was DOE cutting the Treasury Department out of the approval process in the rush to send what will go down as the most expensive press release known to man.”

Is this what the Obama administration's merit based decisions look like? Unfortunately, Solyndra is just one of a growing list of the Department of Energy’s stimulus failures:

  • Abound Solar – The solar manufacturer received a $400 million DOE stimulus loan guaranteeBANKRUPT
  • Solyndra – The solar manufacturer received a $535 million DOE stimulus loan guarantee - BANKRUPT
  • Beacon Power – The solar company received a $43 million DOE stimulus loan guaranteeBANKRUPT
  • Nevada Geothermal Power – Internal audit for the firm that received a $98.5 million stimulus loan guarantee revealed $98 million in net losses and significant debt. MAJOR LOSSES & DEBT
  • Ener1 – The battery maker, #67 on the White House list of 100 Projects that are Changing America, received a $118.5 million stimulus grant - BANKRUPT
  • A123 – The battery maker received a $249 million DOE stimulus grant - LAYOFFS
  • Fisker Automotive – The electric vehicle manufacturer received a $529 million DOE ATVM stimulus loan - LAYOFFS

To view the committee’s entire report, click here.

To view the supporting documents, click here.

To view additional materials relating to the Solyndra Investigation, click here.

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