Donald Lambro

One of them was a $535 million loan to the now-bankrupt solar panel firm Solyndra that Obama promoted against the better judgement of top budget and contract officials who warned the White House against the deal.

What has come to light so far as part of a congressional investigation is the administration's willful order to approve a bad loan, despite dire warnings from a number of federal officials that the California-based Solyndra was in deep financial trouble.

A steady stream of government e-mails released by a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee tell a sordid tale of a company Obama turned into an energy showcase for his $40 billion loan program -- until Solyndra declared bankruptcy in August, putting 1,100 employes out of work.

One of the people promoting Solyndra's $535 million million loan, which will be paid off by federal taxpayers, was Steven J. Spinner, a senior Energy Department adviser, an Obama campaign fundraiser, and a Silicon Valley investor given the job of guiding the administration's clean technology investments.

He was not only one of Solyndra's insider defenders, his wife worked for the California law firm that represented the solar panel company and helped it file for the federal government loan her husband was promoting, according to the Post investigation.

While growing internal concerns were being raised about Solyndra's shaky finances as early as the summer of 2009, Spinner e-mailed a top aide to then-Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel that Solyndra was a financially solvent company that fully deserved the administration's support. "I haven't heard anything negative on my side," he assured Emanuel's aide in an e-mail about the warnings.

As the loan deal stalled over internal criticism of the firm's looming insolvency, Spinner grew more impatient. "How [expletive] hard is this?' he wrote to a career Energy staffer on Aug. 28, 2009 about its delayed clearance by an Office of Management and Budget official. "What is he waiting for?"

But complaints from Office of Management and Budget and Treasury officials about Solyndra's finances, as well as its favorable loan terms, still persisted.

"In an administration that said it would curtail lobbyists' influence, the documents show ardent lobbying by political appointees inside the agencies and significant White House access given to venture capitalists with a major stake in the $40 billion stimulus investment program for clean energy," the Post reported.

The demise of Solyndra and the loss of 1100 jobs was one of the administration's many investment failures.

Others have included Ener 1 that was awarded a $118 million "stimulus" deal from Obama, only to go bankrupt on Jan. 26, 2011; the North Las Vegas-based solar power firm Amonix that laid off 700 workers and shut down in May after receiving $6 million in federal tax credits and a $15.6 million federal grant; and Abound Solar that reaped a $400 million federal loan guarantee to build photovoltaic panel factories before halting production and laying off 180 employes in February and has since declared bankruptcy.

Although Obama declared that the energy grants and loans were all "based solely on their merits," Hoover Institution scholar Peter Schweizer reported in his book, "Throw Them All Out," that 71 percent went to "individuals who were [fundraising] bundlers, members of Obama's National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party."


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.