“The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears.”
– President Barack Obama, January 21, 2009
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) last evening served subpoenas to White House Chief of Staff William Daley and Vice President Joe Biden’s Chief of Staff Bruce Reed for documents related to the $535 million Solyndra loan guarantee. The issuance of the subpoenas is the next investigative step in protecting taxpayers and ensuring congressional access to documents that are specifically relevant to the Solyndra investigation. The subpoenas, which outline four areas for document production as previously suggested by the White House Counsel’s office, set a deadline for the White House to comply by noon on November 10, 2011.
The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee voted 14 to 9 Thursday to give Upton the authority to issue the subpoenas. On Wednesday, Chairman Upton and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) attempted to broker a deal with White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler to gain White House cooperation, but the White House failed to produce internal White House documents related to Solyndra, offer a timeline for doing so, or answer basic questions about the documents. Chairman Upton expressed disappointment with the White House’s written response to the subpoenas.
Chairman Upton made the following statement:
“We have been reasonable every step of the way in this investigation, and it is a shame that the Obama Administration and House Democrats continue to put up partisan roadblocks to hide the truth from taxpayers. Solyndra was a jobs program gone bad, and we must learn the lessons of Solyndra as we work to turn our economy around and put folks back to work. Our judicious and methodical work over the last eight months has garnered tens of thousands of pages of documents from DOE and OMB that have proven we are on the right track. Now, we need to know the White House’s role in the Solyndra debacle in order to learn the full truth about why taxpayers now find themselves a half billion dollars in the hole. The White House could have avoided the need for subpoena authorizations if they had simply chosen to cooperate. That would have been the route we preferred, and frankly, it would have been better for the White House to get the information out now, rather than continue to drag this out. Our request for documents is reasonable – we are not demanding the President’s blackberry messages as we are respectful of Executive Privilege. What is the West Wing trying to hide? We owe it to American taxpayers to find out.”
The subpoena is the second that the Energy and Commerce Committee has considered in the Solyndra matter. On July 14, 2011, the Oversight Subcommittee voted 14 to 8 to subpoena Solyndra-related documents from the Office of Management and Budget. Prior to issuing that subpoena, the committee delayed the vote and attempted to negotiate with OMB (part of the Executive Office of the President) and committee Democrats. After several weeks, it became apparent that the promises to negotiate in good faith were a stalling tactic, forcing the committee to issue the subpoena to OMB. In the nearly four months since that subpoena was issued, the committee still has yet to receive all of the responsive documents from OMB. In spite of those delays, the subpoena of OMB documents has proven critical to the investigation, revealing critical documents that confirmed Solyndra was a bad bet for taxpayers from the beginning.
A copy of the motion authorizing the subpoena, opening statements, the background memo, and the text of the subpoena are available online HERE.
View a copy of the subpoena served to White House Chief of Staff William Daley HERE.
View a copy of the subpoena served to Bruce Reed, Office of the Vice President Chief of Staff HERE.
View a copy of the White House Counsel’s response HERE.
The Energy and Commerce Committee Action Has Significant Precedent. Congressional Democrats Subpoenaed Internal Documents Related to the Bush White House Alone at Least Four Times.
6-13-2007 – House and Senate Judiciary Committees subpoena Harriet Miers, John Bolton, and White House Political Director Sara Taylor for documents and testimony related to the U.S. Attorney firings.
6-27-2007 – Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenas Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and the custodians of records in the Executive Office of the President (EOP) and the Office of the Vice President (OVP) for documents related to NSA’s warrantless wiretapping.
7-26-2007 – Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenas Karl Rove and White House Deputy Political Director J. Scott Jennings for documents and testimony related to the U.S. Attorney firings.
6-16-2008 – House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Henry Waxman (D-CA), subpoenas Attorney General Michael Mukasey for FBI’s interview transcripts of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, related to the outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative.