This might be a good place to mention that shortly after winning its first loan guarantee, Solyndra applied for a second, this one for $400 million. To its credit, the administration did not approve the loan.
By October, CEO Brian Harrison had informed the Energy Department that the company was about to lay off workers. According to an email from Kaiser's investment fund, "the DOE ... requested a delay until after the election (without mentioning the election)."
Voila. Solyndra announced it would shutter one of its plants and lay off 40 workers Nov. 3, the day after the election. Chu testified he would not have approved such a political request.
Now Chu admits he approved a deal that allowed investors to put $75 million into Solyndra in order to give the company a chance to survive. He acknowledged that the second deal included a sweetener that put investors ahead of taxpayers in the payback line that follows bankruptcy.
Sadly, when that expensive (for taxpayers) gambit failed, Solyndra laid off 1,000 workers.
Chu rejected the notion that incompetence and politics may have been factors in this half-billion-dollar blunder. "It's extremely unfortunate what happened," said Chu, "but the bottom fell out of the market; it was totally unexpected."
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., came to Chu's defense. "We have lost the money," he announced. "It's unfortunate, but there's no scandal there."
No scandal? In February 2009, former Solyndra CEO Chris Gronet was so sure he'd get the loan that he set 10 conditions for the administration to meet to help him raise another $147 million. No. 9: "Fundraising support after conditional commitment: Steven Chu visits Solyndra with press interviews (target by end of March)."
Just who worked for whom?