WH Spox Jay Carney's "Scheduling Matter" Could Cost U.S. Taxpayers Half Billion Dollars

September 14, 2011

REALITY CHECK

Obama Press Secretary Tries to Dismiss White House Pressure to Rush Solyndra Loan as OMB E-mails Reveal Corners Were Cut

According to media reports, White House spokesman Jay Carney today tried, but failed, to dismiss an Energy and Commerce report on White House e-mails that clearly show pressure from the West Wing in finalizing the now-bankrupt Solyndra loan as a "scheduling matter."

As reported in The Hill:

"What the emails, I believe, made clear is that there was urgency to make a decision about a scheduling matter," Carney told reporters on Air Force One Wednesday. "As you know, and you are familiar with it in a way that most Americans aren't, it is a big proposition to move the president or to put on an event and that sort of thing. So people were simply looking for answers about whether or not we could move forward."

Turns out Carney's "scheduling matter" comes with a hefty price tag of $535 million.

In the rush to finalize Solyndra's financing in time for a groundbreaking involving Vice President Joe Biden, emails uncovered by Energy and Commerce investigators reveal senior officials at the Office of Management and Budget were apparently prevented from finishing their work on the half-billion dollar Solyndra loan.

In an August 27, 2009, e-mail between OMB staff regarding "Final Solyndra Credit Subsidy Cost," the staff member noted that "(g)iven the time pressure we are under to sign-off on Solyndra, we don't have time to change the model." The senior staff member replied that "(a)s long as we make it crystal clear to DOE that this is only in the interest of time, and that there's no precedent set, then I'm okay with it. But we also need to make sure they don't jam us on later deals so there isn't time to negotiate those, too."

The loan was rushed through anyway, and days later, Vice President Biden appeared via satellite at Solyndra's groundbreaking, right on schedule.

OMB staff concerns about the time pressure to review the Solyndra deal appear to have prompted a senior OMB staff member to reach out to Terrell P. McSweeny, Vice President Biden's Domestic Policy Advisor. In an August 31, 2009, e-mail regarding "DOE Announcement" the OMB staff member wrote to McSweeny, stating, "We have ended up with a situation of having to do rushed approvals on a couple of occasions (and we are worried about Solyndra at the end of the week). We would prefer to have sufficient time to do our due diligence reviews and have the approval set the date for the announcement rather than the other way around."

Two years later, that "scheduling matter" has ended in a bankruptcy and FBI raid, and taxpayers could be on the hook for over half a billion dollars.

Click HERE to read the full Energy and Commerce memo detailing White House pressure to finalize the Solyndra loan guarantee.

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