Administrator Johnson's Solyndra Trip Scrapped 48 Hours Before Planned Visit. Solyndra Was Also Planning to Announce Layoffs on October 28, Until DOE Requested the Layoffs be Delayed Until After 2010 Midterm Elections
WASHINGTON, DC – Documents recently gathered from the General Services Administration in response to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigation into DOE’s $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra reveal that former GSA Administrator Martha Johnson was scheduled to visit Solyndra on October 28, 2010, at the same time as the now-infamous GSA conference in Las Vegas. It appears Administrator Johnson’s trip was scrapped at the last minute due to Solyndra’s pending layoffs announcement, amid concerns by the Obama administration over the political fallout from the layoffs. Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison had informed DOE on October 25, 2010, that the company intended to announce layoffs three days later on Thursday, October 28, 2010. The layoffs announcement was delayed by six days until after the 2010 midterm elections at the request of DOE, and with the knowledge of the White House.
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns requested the documents from GSA in December. DOE Loan Programs chief Jonathan Silver had directly connected GSA with Solyndra’s CEO in July 2010 as Solyndra was seeking government contracts to prop up the failing business.
In one document provided to the committee from October 25, 2010, GSA Deputy Administrator Susan Brita wrote to the GSA Press Secretary requesting details for Administrator Johnson’s upcoming trip to Solyndra. The GSA Press Secretary replied to Brita:
“I’m coordinating with the Solyndra folks today to tie down the details. I’ll let you know if anything changes, but as of now the event is the morning of Thursday, the 28th. I’m shooting for 10:30ish. MJ will take a tour of the plant and speak to plant execs and workers. No formal remarks. I’m inviting a few targeted reporters who seem like good fits for this sort of thing.”
The following day, October 26, 2010, the GSA Press Secretary scheduled a meeting with GSA’s White House liaison Michael Robertson and an additional GSA employee with the note, “I understand Martha told you about the situation with Solyndra. Susan and I spoke to Solyndra reps earlier and would like to fill you in on what we learned.” Administrator Johnson did not make the trip to Solyndra on October 28, 2010.
In a November 8, 2010, email exchange between Administrator Johnson and Deputy Administrator Brita just days after the Solyndra layoffs announcement, Brita informs Administrator Johnson that they “are still working on “˜something’ for you for a visit” to Solyndra.
View documents related to GSA Administrator Martha Johnson’s planned October 28, 2010, visit to Solyndra HERE.
View Jonathan Silver’s July 15, 2010, email connecting GSA and Solyndra HERE.
View Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison’s October 25, 2010, email informing DOE of his intention to announce layoffs October 28, 2010 HERE.