Obama and Solyndra Owe Taxpayers Answers (And $535 Million)

Reince Priebus

9/22/2011 12:01:00 AM - Reince Priebus

The more we learn about the failure of the stimulus-backed company Solyndra, the more questions we have. It is time the White House give us honest answers, not convenient excuses.

As I wrote in my RedState blog post and POLITICO op-ed last week, the Solyndra bankruptcy is a scandal fraught with political favoritism, reckless decision-making, and corrupt self-dealing. If the close political ties between Solyndra’s investors and the Obama White House weren’t enough cause for suspicion, there’s now even more troubling news.

On Tuesday, Solyndra executives announced they would plead the fifth before a Congressional hearing on Friday. Their silence effectively blocks Americans from getting to the bottom of the situation. They will leave us still wondering how Solyndra and the Obama Administration could so grossly mismanage taxpayer dollars.

But there’s more. Not only did the administration rush approval for Solyndra’s $535 million loan in 2009, but later in 2011, it restructured it so that private investors would be paid back before the government. In other words, the Obama administration chose to give preferential treatment to investors – including a political contributor – over their fiduciary responsibility to protect the American taxpayer.

A 2005 law outlining procedures for Energy Department loans required that the government be paid back first, thereby minimizing the risk incurred by taxpayers. Yet the Obama administration openly flouted this law and has yet to justify taking that risk.

What makes this action particularly galling is that the Administration was in close contact with the company, even going so far as to attend corporate board meetings. So, either they were well aware of Solyndra’s perilous financial situation and chose to do nothing, or they were completely oblivious in the face of evidence of impending bankruptcy.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, Rep. Lamar Smith, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called for an independent investigation into this much-too-cozy relationship between the White House and Solyndra. The administration, though, will undoubtedly continue reading off its litany of excuses as it tries to ignore demands for accountability.

But if there is nothing to hide, why not be forthright with the American people? Why not put the issue to rest? When it spends over half a billion dollars in a bad investment, the White House should be able to explain what went wrong. If they continue to refuse, they will only confirm Americans’ suspicions that the Solyndra loan was not an investment to win the future, but rather an investment to win re-election.