Despite Latest Good Faith Efforts, OMB Continues to Withhold Documents - OMB Official Skipped June 24 Hearing on Solyndra Investigation
WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today announced the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a business meeting on Thursday, July 14, 2011, to consider a motion authorizing the issuance of a subpoena for certain records of the Office and Management and Budget relating to the Department of Energy’s issuance of a loan guarantee to Solyndra, Inc. on September 2, 2009. The business meeting will take place at 12:00 noon or 15 minutes after the conclusion of the Environment and the Economy Subcommittee hearing taking place in 2322 RHOB that Thursday morning.
Dating back to a March 14 request, the Committee leaders have pressed the Office of Management and Budget for key documents and information concerning the review of the Solyndra loan guarantee, but OMB has refused to produce all of the documents. The subcommittee convened a hearing June 24 to hear directly from OMB Deputy Director Jeffrey Zients about the stimulus loan guarantee program and press for answers about why OMB refused to produce key documents for congressional investigators. Despite Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns’ (R-FL) urging Director Jacob Lew for cooperation, Zients did not show up. Although efforts have been made over the last two weeks to achieve a bipartisan resolution to obtain the documents, OMB has yet to fully produce all of the documents in question.
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) issued the following statement:
“After two years of zero oversight of the Obama clean energy programs, our investigation has been an exercise in good government to ensure that billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent wisely. Yet OMB has sought to delay and put off this investigation at every step of the way. Subpoenas would not be necessary if OMB had lived up to its agreement and produced the documents as requested.
“In the 120 days since our formal request to OMB for documents, the administration has repeatedly rebuffed this Committee’s efforts to get answers about how this program worked – promises to produce documents have been broken, documents continue to be withheld, and the Deputy Director was a no show at our hearing. We now have no choice but to pursue a subpoena so that we can move forward with our investigation and ensure the public’s best interests are protected. No administration is exempt from thoughtful and diligent oversight and it is not for OMB to dictate the terms of the investigation and what documents this committee can see. The legislative branch has broad constitutional authority to conduct oversight of the executive branch, and we fully intend to meet this obligation.”
Background on Stimulus Loan Guarantee Investigation
Committee leaders are investigating DOE’s use of stimulus funds, particularly the department’s highly publicized $535 million stimulus loan guarantee awarded to Solyndra of Fremont, California. OMB is responsible for reviewing and approving the Credit Subsidy Costs of all DOE loan guarantees.
Since the loan guarantee was closed in September 2009, Solyndra has suffered a number of financial setbacks, including the cancellation of a planned public offering in June 2010 and repeated problems with cash flow. The firm has closed one of its factories, laid off workers, and postponed the expansion of the plant that had received the loan guarantee, resulting in the cancellation of a planned hiring spree that had been touted to include as many as 1,000 additional workers. The week of March 7, DOE modified Solyndra’s loan guarantee and Solyndra announced a new $75 million loan from its existing investors in an effort to save the company by restructuring its outstanding debts and reducing costs.
For a detailed accounting of OMB’s repeated delays, please visit the Energy and Commerce Committee website by clicking HERE.