Congress Set to Subpoena White House Officials in Solyndra Scandal

Fred Lucas | February 16, 2012 | 8:19am EST
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President Barack Obama visits on Mar. 25, 2010, the solar panel company Solyndra in Fremont, Calif., which received a $535-million loan guarantee but went bankrupt. E-mails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act reveal that the White House was intersted in a meeting between Solyndra officials and top personnel at the Government Services Administration, the main purchasing agency of the federal government. (AP Photo)

( – A House panel is expected to vote Friday to issue subpoenas to White House officials with knowledge of the bankrupt solar panel firm Solyndra, now under investigation by the FBI.

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said Friday will mark one year since the committee began its probe, and the Obama administration so far has not answered even the most basic questions.

“The level of White House obstruction goes so far that they have blocked the committee from having a simple conversation with those Executive Branch employees who know the most about Solyndra’s loan guarantee,” Stearns said in a statement.

“We have exercised extraordinary restraint and patience, but unfortunately, we’ve been down this road before as the administration and its partisan allies have fought us tooth and nail every step of the way.”

The California-based Solyndra received a $535-million loan from the Department of Energy in 2009 as part of the stimulus act. But in September 2011, Solyndra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and it was raided by the FBI shortly after that.

In the course of its investigation, the House Energy and Commerce Committee turned up e-mails showing that career government officials in the Energy Department and Office of Management and Budget opposed the loan, which political appointees supported.

The Obama administration has accused the committee of partisanship, and insists it has provided thousands of pages of documents already.

But Republicans on the committee say subpoenas are necessary because the White House is not cooperating.

“One year later, Solyndra is bankrupt, 1,100 people are sadly out of a job, the taxpayers are on the hook for half a billion dollars, and the FBI has launched its own investigation into the failed solar company,” Stearns said. “Testimony from these key individuals, along with the internal West Wing documents that the White House is withholding, are critical to learning the lessons of Solyndra and ensuring it never happens again.”

The House subcommittee will vote Friday on whether to subpoena five White House official, including Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change; Aditya Kumar, deputy assistant to the vice president and former senior adviser to then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel; Kevin Carroll, energy branch chief for the OMB; Kelly Colyar, branch chief for the OMB; and Fouad Saad, program examiner for the OMB.

According to multiple news reports, former Energy Department official Steve Spinner – who subsequently went to work for the Obama re-election campaign – had communicated with both Colyar and Kumar in promoting the loan before it was formally approved.

Other reports say that Andy Davis, an employee of Solyndra’s lobbying firm McBee Strategic Consulting, met with Zichal in September 2009.

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