November 3rd, 2011
11:13 AM ET

White House to face subpoenas on Solyndra

A House panel voted Thursday to subpoena the White House for documents related to solar energy company Solyndra.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittee on oversight and investigations voted 14 to 9 in favor of issuing the subpoenas for internal documents regarding the decision to issue more than half a billion dollars in federal loan guarantees in 2010 to Solyndra, which later filed for bankruptcy.

The decision followed a contentious debate among subcommittee members.

Some Republicans have accused the Obama administration of stonewalling, while some Democrats insist the administration has been forthcoming.

Federal analysts looking at the proposed Solyndra loan in 2009 warned then of possible problems, as well as pressure from the White House to speed up a decision, according to a memorandum released last month by congressional investigators.

Approved in May 2010, the Energy Department's loan allowed Solyndra to build a factory in Fremont, California, to produce state-of-the-art solar panels.

Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in late August and closed its doors, however, putting more than 1,000 people out of work after it received $535 million in loan guarantees.

The bankruptcy leaves the federal government unlikely to get the loan money back. President Barack Obama touted the company in a widely publicized visit last year.

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Filed under: Politics • Solyndra
Source: White House will not turn over all Solyndra documents
October 14th, 2011
09:18 PM ET

Source: White House will not turn over all Solyndra documents

The White House will not comply with requests to turn over documents related to the bankrupt solar company Solyndra, which received a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government, CNN learned Friday.

A government source provided a letter that White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler sent to House Energy and Commerce chair Rep. Fred Upton and subcommittee chair Rep. Cliff Stearns Friday afternoon responding to their request for internal White House communications related to the Solyndra loan guarantee.

Solyndra is a California solar panel manufacturer that had received $535 million in federal loan guarantees before it was forced to halt operations and file for bankruptcy at the end of August, putting more than 1,000 workers out of work.

Before its failure, the company had been touted as an example of the benefits of creating green jobs by the Obama administration. But since then, it has become the center of congressional criticism and a probe by the FBI.

Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison resigned Wednesday.

Citing precedent, the president's legal counsel is refusing to hand over all internal White House communications related to the energy firm, including President Obama's Blackberry messages, arguing that the president needs to protect open counsel from advisers and staff.

In part, the letter obtained by CNN says the request "implicates longstanding and significant institutional Executive Branch confidentiality interests. Encroaching upon these important interests is not necessary, however, because the agency documents the Committee has requested, which include communications with the White House, should satisfy the Committee's stated objective – to 'understand the involvement of the White House in the review of the Solyndra loan guarantee and the Administration's support of this guarantee.'"

The letter notes the administration in total has turned over 70,000 pages of documents from the Department of Energy, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Department of the Treasury, and over 900 pages from the White House itself. The letter also says the White House will continue to cooperate with the investigation.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics • Solyndra