Faced with new Solyndra subpoena, White House stands firm and seeks impartial review02. November 2011 | Top News, Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends | By: Cheryl Kaften
Refusing to be intimidated by scandal-starved Republicans, the Obama Administration pushed back on October 28 - not only declining to provide more documentation on the spectacular collapse of the California-based solar company, Solyndra LLC, but also mandating its own independent, 60-day review of Energy Department loans.
Solyndra, which received a $535 million federal loan guarantee and was endorsed by Obama as an example of his emphasis on "green jobs," filed for bankruptcy in September and laid off 1,000 workers. Since then, the company has become a focal point for Republican opposition to government investments in clean energy.
"Today we are directing that an independent analysis be conducted of the current state of the Department of Energy loan portfolio, focusing on future loan monitoring and management," said White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley last Friday, acknowledging that, "While we continue to take steps to make sure the United States remains competitive in the 21st century energy economy, we must also ensure that we are strong stewards of taxpayer dollars."
Earlier in October, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) had sent a letter to White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, renewing their request for all internal White House communications related to Solyndra. She replied to them on October 25, reminding them that the Administration had already given Congress more than 70,000 pages of documents from federal agencies involved in the Solyndra loan guarantee, and denying for a second time in a month their request for documents.
The next subpoena may come as soon as Thursday, November 3, when the Committee is due to meet again. "Subpoenaing the White House is a serious step that, unfortunately, appears necessary in light of the Obama Administration’s stonewall on Solyndra," Rep. Stearns said in an official statement. "What is the White House trying to hide from the American public?"
In the meantime, the Executive Office has tasked Herb Allison with directing an impartial investigation, and has approved the sourcing of an outside exploratory team.
Allison’s career in public and private service has spanned four decades. He served as President of Fannie Mae after it entered into conservatorship in September 2008. In 2009, he was selected by President Obama, and confirmed by the United States Senate, to be the Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Financial Stability.
In this role, which he held until September 2010, Allison oversaw the Troubled Asset Relief Program and was charged with helping to stabilize the financial sector. During his career in the private sector, Allison was the president and CEO of TIAA-CREF from 2002 through 2008; and spent 28 years at Merrill Lynch, where he eventually served as president.
"I look forward to getting to work examining the Energy Department’s loan portfolio," commented Allison. "This Administration clearly recognizes the challenges and opportunities that coexist with these programs. My goal is to assess the current financial state of the portfolio and to ensure effective monitoring and management of the loan portfolio going forward."
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said he welcomed the review. "I look forward to working with Mr. Allison as he conducts his review and recommends further steps to ensure that the Department is protecting the interests of taxpayers," Chu said.
He defended the loan guarantees program, noting, "Our loan programs are putting thousands of Americans to work and helping our country compete in the global race for the clean energy jobs of the future."
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