As Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, I have led the investigation into the Obama Administration’s rushed decision to loan Solyndra, a California based solar panel manufacture, $535 million in taxpayer money that was ultimately lost. During this investigation, I uncovered that the Department of Energy (DOE) knew as early as August of 2009 that Solyndra would go bankrupt in September of 2011. The investigation has also uncovered that during the restructuring of the Solyndra loan, DOE made the unprecedented decision to allow two venture capital firms to be paid back before taxpayers if Solyndra failed – a clear violation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
There is great cause for alarm over political influence contaminating the DOE loan guarantee program. Documents produced by the White House reveal a disturbing prevalence of wealthy donors and bundlers throughout the loan guarantee process, with direct access to the President’s most senior advisors. In addition, because of the Obama Administration’s stonewalling of the investigation, subpoenas for records were issued to the Office of Management and Budget, the White House and the Executive Office of the Vice President. This was the first subpoena issued to the White House since the Watergate era. Those subpoenas have uncovered that the White House had advanced notice that Solyndra planned to fire workers and the Energy Department urged Solyndra to postpone the layoffs until after the 2010 election. I am continuing to investigate the DOE loan guarantee program and am developing legislation to ensure more taxpayer money is not gambled on these risky ventures.