As White House Threatens to Defy Subpoena, New Emails Offer Glimpse of Close Ties Between Solyndra Investor & West Wing

November 9, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - In the face of the White House Counsel's threats to defy the Energy and Commerce Committee's subpoena for documents related to Solyndra, full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) today provided the White House a sampling of emails that offer a glimpse into the close relationship between billionaire Solyndra investor George Kaiser and the Obama administration. The emails that were uncovered as part of the ongoing investigation and released today reveal detailed conversations between Kaiser, Steve Mitchell from Kaiser's venture capital firm Argonaut, and Ken Levit, Executive Director of the George Kaiser Family Foundation. 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.

In the letter to White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, Chairmen Upton and Stearns write, "Executive Branch departments or agencies typically perform an internal review in response to Committee document requests and provide feedback to the Committee staff that can better inform the issues surrounding the production of documents.  As we expressed during our meeting one week ago, in order to move this negotiating process forward, it is important that you provide information from your own internal review, such as how many individuals in the White House were involved in the Solyndra matter and the quantity and type of responsive documents in the possession of the White House.  We could then discuss your concerns based on actual facts rather than hypothetical fears about the nature and scope of the Committee's request."

The committee leaders also raise concerns regarding political influence, writing, "We note that the White House has repeatedly stated that no political influence was brought to bear with regard to Solyndra, and that Mr. George Kaiser, a Solyndra investor and Obama fundraiser, never discussed Solyndra during any of his seventeen visits to the White House. Documents recently obtained by the Committee directly contradict those statements. In light of the foregoing, the American people clearly deserve to know why they have lost over 500 million dollars as a result of the Administration's decision to proceed with the Solyndra loan guarantee and its restructuring.  To advance that cause, we stand ready to engage in further discussions with you regarding the document production."  

The sampling of emails the committee submitted to the White House contradict administration claims made in an October 6, 2011, report that stated, "a White House official familiar with an internal review of meetings between Kaiser and such senior presidential aides as Valerie Jarrett and Pete Rouse, told ABC News that the White House now firmly believe that Kaiser never broached the subject of the Solyndra loan. Kaiser has "˜said publically (sic) that Solyndra was not discussed at these meetings, and we have no reason to dispute that,' the White House official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he had not been given approval to discuss the matter."

The committee's request for documents is a reasonable one that centers around one specific company. Issuance of the subpoena does not preclude further dialogue about the manner in which the White House can and should respond to the committee's inquiry.  The subpoena the committee issued to the Office of Management and Budget on July 15, 2011, should serve as a model for negotiations moving forward, particularly because OMB is contained within the Executive Office of the President. Likewise, that subpoena sought "all documents in possession of the Office of Management and Budget relating to the $535 million loan guaranteeissued to Solyndra, Inc., by the Department of Energy including, but not limited to, notes, analyses, reports, memoranda, and all drafts of such documents." Neither OMB nor the White House Counsel dismissed that subpoena as overly broad, and it is unclear why they are refusing the same dialogue and negotiation with this subpoena. Following issuance of the subpoena, OMB has turned over approximately 7,000 pages, including press clippings. OMB had a statutory role in approving the Solyndra loan's credit subsidy, unlike the White House, which suggests that the Executive Offices of the President and Vice President would have fewer documents. 

Since October 5, 2011, when it received the most recent document request, the White House has not provided any factual information that would inform the committee's ability to craft the details of a document production schedule or instructions.  The committee expects to see good faith efforts of compliance by the White House before the November 10, 2011 deadline.

View the Committee leaders' November 9, 2011, letter to the White House Counsel HERE.

View the three George Kaiser related emails HERE.

View the White House's November 4, 2011, response to the subpoenas HERE.