White House considered replacing Energy Secretary over Solyndra, email reveals

Several White House officials saw a plan to oust Energy Secretary Steven Chu months before a scandal surrounding solar power company Solyndra, the Associated Press has reported.

The proposal to replace Chu came in a Feb. 25 email from Dan Carol, a former issues adviser to Barack Obama's presidential campaign, and was circulated by Peter Rouse, Obama's chief of staff at the time, AP reported Friday.

Spokesmen from the White House and from Energy said the plan was not taken seriously, the report said.

The White House released the email in response to Nov. 3 subpoenas issued by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is looking into a $500 million federal loan granted to the now-bankrupt Solyndra Inc.

"As our investigation has unfolded, many more questions have emerged about both the initial loan to Solyndra and the subsequent restructuring [of the firm] that put taxpayers at the back of the line," committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and investigations subcommittee chairman Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., said in a joint statement.

"Interest in Solyndra was not limited to the Department of Energy or Office of Management and Budget: some of the president's most senior advisers were closely monitoring the loan as well."

In his email, Carol suggested offering the Energy' top job to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and making Chu the department's chief scientist, AP reported.

"This is a huge job and he would be perfect for it," Carol said in the email, adding that Chu "is a wonderful and brilliant man, but he is not perfect for the other critical DOE mission: deploying existing technologies at scale and creating jobs."

Solyndra's bankruptcy and allegations that Energy acted illegally in supporting the failed firm have been a point of controversy for the administration.

Dan Leistikow, Chu's spokesman, said the emails "reaffirm that decisions were made on the merits and that all of the baseless allegations about political considerations just aren't borne out by the facts," AP reported.

Chu will testify before the House energy committee on Thursday.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.