Despite Exhaustive Requests, Obama White House Continues to Shield Key Players from Committee Investigators
WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a business meeting at 9:45a.m. on Friday, February 17, 2012, in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building to consider a resolution authorizing the issuance of a subpoena to compel the testimony of five executive branch employees who were involved in the Solyndra loan guarantee. The committee is preparing to issue subpoenas after the White House shielded key administration staff closely involved with Solyndra from committee investigators for months, denying requests from the committee to even talk to relevant individuals. In a February 9, 2012, letter to the White House, the committee requested that five executive branch employees be made available by February 17, 2012, or the committee would pursue subpoenas for their testimony. The White House has yet to respond. The business meeting will be cancelled if the White House does make arrangements for the five individuals to speak with investigators.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns made the following statement:
“Friday marks one year since we launched our investigation into the half billion dollar Solyndra loan guarantee, and still, the Obama administration will not even answer the most basic questions about what took place. The level of White House obstruction goes so far that they have blocked the committee from having a simple conversation with those executive branch employees who know the most about Solyndra’s loan guarantee.
“We have exercised extraordinary restraint and patience, but unfortunately, we’ve been down this road before as the administration and its partisan allies have fought us tooth and nail every step of the way. One year later, Solyndra is bankrupt, 1,100 people are sadly out of a job, the taxpayers are on the hook for half a billion dollars, and the FBI has launched its own investigation into the failed solar company. Testimony from these key individuals, along with the internal West Wing documents that the White House is withholding, are critical to learning the lessons of Solyndra and ensuring it never happens again.
“While the White House likes to hype how many pages various agencies have turned over and how many hearings we’ve held, the real issue is what the White House is not doing. They refuse to turn over the Solyndra-related documents in their possession. They have blocked witnesses from talking to our investigators. And they dismiss the entire investigation as if the loss of a half a billion in taxpayer dollars is just the price of doing business, and not worth real oversight. Despite our constitutional authority, they refuse to comply with the subpoenas we issued in November.
“In addition to Friday’s business meeting to subpoena testimony, we have set a February 21 deadline for the White House to hand over all the documents to comply with our November subpoenas. All the White House has to do is start cooperating. Taxpayers who are on the hook for half a billion dollars deserve the peace of mind that Congress will ensure this never happens again. Our efforts continue.”
The five individuals the committee is seeking testimony from are:
- Kevin Carroll, Energy Branch Chief, OMB
- Kelly Colyar, Branch Chief, OMB
- Aditya Kumar, Deputy Assistant to the Vice President and Senior Advisor to then White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel
- Fouad Saad, Program Examiner, OMB
- Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change
Friday will mark the third occasion that the committee will be forced to consider subpoenas during the course of the Solyndra investigation. The committee voted to issue a subpoena for OMB documents on July 14, 2011. The committee also voted to issue subpoenas to the Executive Office of the President and Office of the Vice President on November 3, 2011.
A background memo and related materials can be found HERE. Opening statements and a live webcast will also be available online.
A copy of the motion authorizing the subpoenas can be found HERE.
A copy of the committee’s February 9, 2012, letter 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.