Emails suggest Energy Department put politics above economics with Solyndra

By Amy Harder

November 16, 2011

In another email released by House Republicans on Wednesday, the Energy Department was described as putting politics above economics in considering the now-bankrupt Solyndra and its $535 million loan guarantee.

"The DOE really thinks politically before it thinks economically and in a conversation today with [name redacted] he confirmed this (he knows Jonathan Silver -- head of the DOE loan program," states a Dec. 7, 2010, email from Steve Mitchell, managing director of venture-capital firm Argonaut and a member of Solyndra's board of directors, to George Kaiser, an Oklahoma oil billionaire who bundled campaign donations for presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008. Kaiser founded Argonaut, which is the major investor in Solyndra.

This correspondence came at a time when Energy, Solyndra, and its private investors were considering whether to restructure the company's loan as it was struggling financially. Ultimately, the agency decided to restructure the loan and put new private investment worth $75 million from Argonaut ahead of the government's debt in the event of a Solyndra default. Republicans charge that subordination of the government's interest violates the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the law that created the department's loan program.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu testifies to a House investigative committee about the Solyndra loan on Thursday.


By Amy Harder

November 16, 2011

http://www.govexec.com/federal-news/2011/11/emails-suggest-energy-department-put-politics-above-economics-with-solyndra/35431/