Solyndra executives are being hauled before a GOP House Committee today, the latest props in the conservative right’s war on clean energy. Solyndra recently went belly up after obtaining over $500 million in DOE loan guarantees that were allegedly helped along by the White House. The House Energy and Commerce Committee wants to bat them around a bit and also use them as a way to point out alleged White House corruption. But the executives will plead the fifth instead.
But in a statement, the company asserted that it “is not aware of any wrongdoing by Solyndra officers, directors or employees in conjunction with the [Energy Department] loan guarantee.” Solyndra said it is cooperating fully with a criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney for the northern district of California.
The Solyndra executives had been asked to testify last week but delayed their appearance, saying they would cooperate this week and promising not to invoke their rights to avoid self-incrimination.
Attorneys for Solyndra chief executive Brian Harrison and chief financial officer W.G. “Bill” Stover said Tuesday that they advised their clients not to answer questions from House lawmakers. They cited the Justice Department investigation and the FBI’s recent raid of Solyndra’s Fremont, Calif., offices.
“This is not a decision arrived at lightly,” Harrison’s attorney, Walter F. Brown, said in a letter obtained by The Washington Post, “but it is a decision dictated by current circumstances.”
I don’t know why Solyndra’s’ execs originally agreed not to invoke the Fifth, given the FBI had already raided their headquarters. Still, it’s their right under the Constitution.
And while we’re on the subject of elected officials trying to influence government loan decisions, I wonder whether Fred Upton, the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Cliff Stearns, the investigations subcommittee chairman, will submit to questions about their efforts to secure the same kinds of clean energy loan guarantees for their donors and companies in their districts as Solyndra received. While you’re at it, throw Darrell Issa into that mix as well:
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced yesterday that his committee plans to investigate government loan programs to private corporations out of a concern that politicians might exert undue influence to help those who donated to their campaigns. But Issa had sought government loans in the past for similar clean-energy products in his home state.
Letters show Issa lobbying Energy Secretary Steven Chu to grant loans to a Aptera Motors, a California-based hybrid car company; a San Diego-area biofuels consortium; and Quallion, a lithium-ion battery manufacturer in Los Angeles.
In one letter, Issa writes: “Awarding this opportunity to Aptera Motors will greatly assist a leading developer of electric vehicles in my district. … A loan to Aptera will help accelerate the move from gasoline-powered vehicles to cleaner electric vehicles.”
I know hypocrisy doesn’t mean anything in the Republican Party anymore, but this is getting ridiculous.