Ben Johnson,The White House Watch
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
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.”
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.”
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….