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In its latest lawless evasion, the Obama administration has ignored a Congressional subpoena for all White House documents related to the Solyndra scandal. The deadline came and went at noon today. The action comes one day after newly discovered e-mails contradicted the official story of this administration and Obama bundler George Kaiser that the two parties never discussed Solyndra. Those communications appear to indicate White House offered to exert pressure on the federal bureaucracy to aid the failed Green energy firm. What else is the administration hiding?
Obama Lied; Solyndra Died
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The administration and George Kaiser, who bundled at least $50,000 for the president’s 2008 campaign, have claimed they never discussed Solyndra in any way during Kaiser’s 17 trips to the White House. John Hudson at The Atlantic notes, “White House officials have repeated the claim that they did not discuss the company and its loan with Kaiser.” When the scandal broke, one anonymous Obama insider told ABC News that Kaiser had “said publicly that Solyndra was not discussed at these meetings, and we have no reason to dispute that. We understand that the conversations in these meetings were focused on the general policy priorities of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, including early childhood education and poverty, health care policy, and energy policy.”
However, e-mails obtained by House Republicans blew a hole in the contention that the White House and its benefactor engaged in nearly a score of friendly chats about the poor, the environment, and the children. (You can read the e-mails here.)
Kaiser wrote an e-mail to Solyndra board member Steve Mitchell last March stating, “a couple of weeks ago when [Kaiser Family Foundation executive director] Ken [Levit] and I were visiting with a group of Administration folks in DC who are in charge of the Stimulus process (White House, not DOE) and Solyndra came up, every one of them responded simultaneously about their thorough knowledge of the Solyndra story, suggesting it was one of their prime poster children.” (Emphasis added.) In a previous e-mail, Ken Levit wrote he met with an “ARRA Recovery Team,” which distributed stimulus funds under the watchful eye of Joe Biden, and they were “all big fans of Solyndra.”
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Some, including committee Democrats Henry Waxman and Diana DeGette, have argued that could simply mean that “someone in the room mentioned Solyndra, and Mr. Kaiser or Mr. Levit acknowledged their interest in the company.” A February 27, 2010, e-mail reveals who broached the topic. Ken Levit wrote to Steve Mitchell, “They about had an orgasm in Biden’s office when we mentioned Solyndra.” (Emphasis added.)
Kaiser’s employees apparently did not get the message. “To reaffirm our previous public statements, George Kaiser had no discussions with the government regarding the loan to Solyndra,” Kaiser spokesman C. Renzi Stone wrote in an e-mail after the story broke.
Congressmen Fred Upton and Cliff Stearns of the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler: “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 17 visits to the White House. Documents recently obtained by the committee directly contradict those statements.”
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Admissions of Administration “Assistance”?
Not only do the e-mails prove each side discussed Solyndra, but the company’s executives confirm to each other privately that the White House had offered its “assistance.”
Democrats have seized on a few stray lines of an e-mail as proof that Kaiser opposed involving the White House, and that career Energy Department officials made the call based on the “merits.” On the contrary, the exchange seems to prove the initial loan approval came about through cronyism at the highest levels.
Solyndra unsuccessfully sought a second government loan totaling $469 million from the Energy Department. During that time frame, in October 2010, Kaiser wrote to Levit and Mitchell:
I question the assumption that WH is the path to pursue when both of your issues are with DOE. I doubt whether [Peter] Rouse/[Carol] Browner would intervene and, if they did, I am concerned that DOE/[Secretary Steven] Chu would resent that intervention and your problem could get more difficult. I would see an appeal as only a last resort and, even then, questionable.
Mitchell replied that they were already working the White House and acknowledged White House involvement in the past, prior to the failed Energy Department deal:
The WH meeting is more about assistance in selling panels to the government than it is about getting the DOE loan revised. The WH has offered to help in the past and we do have a contact within the WH that we are working with. I think the company is hoping that we have some unnatural relationship that can open bigger doors — I’ve cautioned them that no one really has those relationships anymore.
What “unnatural relationship” did the company exploit before the second DOE loan? What “help” did the White House offer in the past? Referring to calling in chits from the White House as a “last resort” is not exactly an unequivocal condemnation of corruption. And naturally, a taxpayer-subsidized vendor seeking the White House’s aid in selling solar panels to the government is the definition of crony capitalism.
Nonetheless, White House response has been indignant. “Nothing in the 85,000 pages of documents produced thus far by the administration or in these four indicate any favoritism to political supporters,” insists White House spokesman Eric Schultz. In yet another attempt to pimp Obama’s jobs bill, he added, “We wish that House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee were as zealous about creating jobs as they were about this oversight investigation.”
The Obama administration has proved it has no interest in justice being served.
Spiting the Subpoena
The White House appears to be speaking out of both sides of its mouth about whether it will ever comply with the subpoena, issued last week by Congressman Upton. While Fox News reports officials have told the media they will not produce any additional information, Upton has stated, “The White House Counsel’s Office informed the committee that it plans to begin providing responsive materials to the committee’s subpoena.”
Obama’s counsel and stonewaller-in-chief on the Solyndra scandal, Kathryn Ruemmler, argued the subpoena was “overbroad,” and an official complained it could require Obama to turn over “material generated to plan a presidential visit” to the company in October 2010. Upton specifically tailored his subpoena to demand “all documents referring or relating in any way to the $535 million loan guarantee issued to Solyndra, Inc.” (Emphasis added.) Upton and Rep. Cliff Stearns replied that Ruemmler should “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,” so they could “discuss your concerns based on actual facts rather than hypothetical fears about the nature and scope of the Committee’s request.” Obama has stonewalled that process, as well. A committee spokesman said “the White House has not provided any factual information that would inform the Committee’s ability to craft the details of a document request.”
Obama’s closest adviser appears to have reason for concern.
Valerie Jarrett: Kaiser’s “Contact Within the WH”?
In one of the newly released e-mails, Mitchell writes, “we do have a contact within the WH that we are working with.” He also alludes to a previous “unnatural relationship” that opened big doors. Kaiser met specifically with Valerie Jarrett.
For those unfamiliar with her role in the Obama administration, there is no adviser of comparable importance to Valerie Jarrett. An Obama 2008 campaign official told the New York Times, “If you want him to do something, there are two people he’s not going to say no to: Valerie Jarrett and Michelle Obama.” Barack Obama told the New York Times he runs every decision by her. Jarrett agreed, “We have kind of a mind meld.”
As Obama’s liaison to the business community, Jarrett’s job was to facilitate the mutual flow of pressure and favors between corporate titans and the administration. Obama’s inner circle looked at the $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra as an attempt to generate 1,100 “green jobs” and boost alternative energy. Kaiser’s contributions certainly did not hurt. Despite concerns from career people that Solyndra’s business model looked disastrous from the start, the half-billion-dollar loan went through. This February, the administration restructured the loan to allow new investors to recoup up to $75 million ahead of U.S. taxpayers. As late as August, while Solyndra lay at the door of bankruptcy, the Obama administration paid the investment firm Lazard Ltd. $1 million to consider bailing out Solyndra. All of this indicates a deep level of White House concern for the economic failure of a campaign contributor.
House Republicans contend the loan restructuring alone is a clear violation of the law. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 clearly states that all government loan guarantees “shall be subject to the condition that the obligation is not subordinate to other financing.” If any official aided Solyndra in breaking the law, that person must be fired and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If the president had knowledge of his, or her, actions, it would constitute an impeachable offense.
1. Obama’s stonewalling also brings the issue of media bias and accuracy into context. In addition to the fact that there are no stories on this major turn of events, the gossipy Bible of inside-the-Beltways climbers, Politico, somehow managed to produce a headline last week entitled, “W.H. to Comply with Solar Subpoena.” Remember that the next time some liberal makes a snide remark about the veracity of Faux News.