WASHINGTON, DC – Despite receiving a $535 million loan guarantee financed by U.S. taxpayers, two top executives for now-bankrupt Solyndra today refused to answer any questions from the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, instead invoking their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Despite earlier pledges that the top executive would voluntarily testify, Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison and CFO W.G. Stover both pleaded the Fifth Amendment and declined to answer any of the Subcommittee’s questions at this morning’s hearing.
Solyndra was awarded the first stimulus DOE loan in the spring of 2009 and had been widely promoted as a stimulus jobs “success story,” with President Obama visiting the plant in May 2010. Despite concerns over the company’s financial viability, the Obama administration restructured Solyndra’s loan in February 2011 and put venture capitalists at the front of the line, ahead of taxpayers, in the event of bankruptcy. Subordinating the federal government’s claim to recoup the taxpayers’ money is in violation of the plain letter of the law.
At the hearing, Subcommittee Chairman Stearns stated, “I want to make it clear today, that this Subcommittee’s investigation continues. We have been asking questions about this deal since February. We will get to the bottom of why this loan was pushed out to a company whose liquidity issues were a “˜major issue’ to DOE staff reviewing the loan back in 2009 – and which ultimately caused its bankruptcy. We will also figure out just how DOE concluded that restructuring the Solyndra deal “˜positioned the U.S. taxpayer for maximum recovery,’ when documents produced to the Committee show that OMB staff doubted that it would prevent a Solyndra bankruptcy or result in greater recoveries for the government. We are also determined to know why DOE allowed the taxpayer to be subordinated to the private investors during that restructuring, in violation of the clear letter of the law.”
Full Committee Chairman Fred Upton addressed Harrison and Stover at today’s hearing, stating, “It is a very sad commentary that we met resistance every step of the way of seeking answers to basic questions overseeing the “˜approval process’ of this project. We had to finally resort to a subpoena and now the outright resistance of getting answers that both of you assured us, only last week, that you’d provide. Let me just warn you and the other folks involved in this taxpayer rip-off. We’re not done. No we’re not.”
Solyndra announced its bankruptcy on August 31, 2011, and was the subject of an FBI raid on September 8, 2011. The Energy and Commerce Committee launched an investigation into the circumstances behind the loan in February 2011. In the face of partisan roadblocks and repeated pushback, protest, and misleading claims on Solyndra’s viability by administration officials, company executives, and Congressional Democrats, the Committee has continued investigating the highly publicized loan guarantee.
Earlier this week, the Subcommittee requested additional documents detailing communications between DOE and the White House and DOE and the Treasury Department. The Subcommittee also requested documents from Argonaut Private Equity and Madrone Capital Partners, the primary venture capitalists behind Solyndra. Members are seeking all materials related to now-bankrupt Solyndra’s $535 million loan guarantee, the company’s cancelled initial public offering, the $75 million credit facility, the February 2011 loan restructuring, the company’s bankruptcy, as well as materials related to communications with the Obama administration.