White House beats back claim it pressured loan to now-bankrupt company
Obama toured the Solyndra factory in May of 2010.
September 14th, 2011
02:56 PM ET

White House beats back claim it pressured loan to now-bankrupt company

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Wednesday downplayed recently revealed e-mails that Congressional Republicans say suggest the White House was pushing for a hasty approval of a $535 million loan to an unstable but politically connected solar energy company.

One e-mail, uncovered by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and reported by ABC News, is from a White House budget analyst warning then-Vice President Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, that the 2009 Department of Energy loan was “not ready for prime time.” In a separate e-mail to the budget analyst, Klain wrote, “If you guys think this is a bad idea, I need to unwind the W[est] W[ing] QUICKLY."

But the loan to the now-defunct Solyndra company was was later announced by Vice President Biden and reviewed in only 9 days - proof, a House Energy and Commerce Committee report says, that the administration pressured the budget office to hastily approve a tax-payer funded deal with a company they had reason to believe wasn’t standing on strong financial ground.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One Wednesday, Carney said the e-mails show nothing more than concern over a scheduling matter, in light of the fact the announcement event was already planned and would have to be pushed back if the loan was not approved on time.

“What the e-mails, I believe, made clear is that there was urgency to make a decision about a scheduling matter. As you know, and you are familiar with it in a way that most Americans aren’t, it is a big proposition to move the President or to put on an event and that sort of thing,” Carney said. “So people were simply looking for answers about whether or not we could move forward - they could move forward with that.”

Carney also defended the loan itself, saying that investing in new energy companies like Solyndra is inherently a “high-risk, high-reward” venture.

“[I]t was vital to make these investments,” Carney said. “But the overall understanding of the need to make, to - in these potentially high-risk but high-reward industries, that require - get the seed money from the federal government, like, say, the Internet, you have to take these measures. The President and the administration remain committed to that.”

Republicans instead contend Solyndra received favorable treatment in the loan approval process due to its tight relationship with administration officials. They point out that one of the company's main financial backers, billionaire George Kaiser, is also a big Democratic campaign donor.

Noting Kaiser’s connection to the president, the Republican National Committee last week issued a press release stating, “Corruption [is] at the heart of the failed Obama economic strategy.”

Carney rejected that suggestion, saying Wednesday, “We did not - it had nothing to do with – -and there is no evidence to the contrary - nothing to do with anything besides the need to get an answer to make a scheduling decision.”

So far, the energy department has backed nearly $40 billion in projects that range from solar and wind farms to nuclear power plants. Carney’s comments come the same day the Energy and Commerce Committee is holding hearings on the matter.

The California-based Solyndra, which employed more than 1,000 people, declared bankruptcy earlier this month.

President Obama visited the company in May of 2010, saying it was a prime example of “American ingenuity and dynamism.”

–CNNMomney.com's Steve Hargreaves contributed to this report


Topics: President Obama • The News

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soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. California Conservative

    Like what else were they going to say. Ha ha Yeah right and the new Jobs package Obama is trying to push through won't cost anything.

    September 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  2. Larry L

    If a person thinks government support for specific businesses is a new idea they should google-up "Hailburton Loophole" and see how Dick Cheney helps his buddies.

    September 14, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • California Conservative

      You do know Obama renewed Hailburton's contract right?

      Obama also has a no-bid contract with Checchi and Company.

      September 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  3. CAL USA

    Another case of selective outrage by conservatives. No mention of the $8B no-bid contract for Halliburton to build barracks in Iraq with showers that electrocuted a number of US troops. By the way, Dick Cheney's stock options in the company tripled in value while he was in office. Corruption anyone?

    September 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  4. FIELD1stSGT

    This should show everyone what a moron is in the Oval Office. Don't vote for this imbecile again. Four more years of retarded mistakes this country can not stand.

    September 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  5. Thomas

    It's bad that Solyndra went under. The Chines have taken the lead in solar energy , you learn from your mistakes.
    However , venture capital in regards to energy is needed if we are going to be a world player on the global market.

    To those who blame the president for the failure in regards to Solydra . Look at GM , you win some you lose some.

    My concern is the wasteful spending on military security contractors . The government accounting office has estimated the cost currently is over THIRTY BILLION over the last ten yrars . Mostly do to corruption and favoritism in regards to contracts .

    I'm sure the Israelis or the Chines will buy Solyndra for pennies on the dollar and make it a profitable company with a new name .

    September 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  6. Jeff

    You really don't expect Carney to admit to the W. House pushing this loan through do you, You have to look at it this way, it saved 1100 jobs for about 1 1/2 years!!!!!

    September 14, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Steve-illinois

      1100 jobs for 18 months at a cost of $475000 per job! Now that's a bargain!

      September 14, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • sambo

      I expect the buck to stop there

      September 15, 2011 at 12:36 am |
  7. Blackman in America

    ...........OMG..............so Congress has nothing else to do but waste more time and $$ on this bsh_t? repuks are soooooooo disgusting. Now the W.H. is to blame when a company gets a loan then goes into bankruptcy months later ......... this has nothing to with Congress NOT doing their JOBs for the rest of America right? IGNORENT AS ALL HECK repuks are.

    September 14, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • C-Lo

      Blackman, try this report on for size:
      WASHINGTON - The U.S. government's stimulus "green rush" is triggering a 21st century gold rush by foreign companies.

      An alarming series of recent reports indicates a lion's share, nearly 80 percent, of the government's Recovery Act funding for wind energy projects is going to companies headquartered overseas.

      According to a letter obtained this month from New York Sen. Charles Schumer, and confirmed by a study produced by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, $849 million of the $1.05 billion in clean energy stimulus grants have gone to foreign-owned clean energy companies.

      Two of the largest recipients:
      Iberdrola Renewables (Spain) – $545 million
      EDPR (Portugal) – $276 million

      The Investigative Reporting Workshop's probe reported, "Even more striking is the fact that there are few restrictions on the how the grants can be use. The report also said, "More than $800 million has been given to firms for wind farms that were already producing electricity before they received the grants."

      This was done under a DEM House, Senate and White House. If you want OBAMA funded jobs, looks like you need to leave the US.

      September 14, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • C-Lo

      So, careful who you call "ignorant"

      September 14, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • scaredgrl

      It has everything to do with the W.H. when they push it through after being told that it was not a good investment. The current W.H. is always in such a hurry to give money away that they are not thinking about the long road and what damage it could do to our country. Just like he is in such a hurry to get this new 447 billion dollar stimulas package passed. Repeats of failed attempts to fix the economy do not need to be repeated!!!! Come up with a new plan!!! If you gave your neighbor $1000.00 to try to help them with their bills, then you see they bought a new tv and went out to eat all week then came to you again the next week to borrow more money from you I am sure you would not give them money again, well you wouldn't if you have common sense, but thats the same thing that is going on with the new stimulas. We keep bailing out people who did not run their businesses wisely. How about holding people responsible for their actions? If I do not pay my light bill they should not come turn off your lights, they should hold me responsible and turn off my lights!

      September 14, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • Howard

      FACE IT ... America is waking up to the fact that Obama is an idiot, who is destroying our economy, and our country.

      September 14, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • Sonnie2

      Dear Black man Meet me. Whjite Man. It don't take a rocket scientist to see what a foolish blunder made when he got on TV and said look what a good deal. 1000 jobs saved??? And now a very short time later he need to get back on TV and admit he was wrong again and spend the money like water going down a drain. Our potus has no clue as to what he can do to change the situation (economic) other than tax and spend!!! what a dunce. He has tried this many times and you would think he might try another approach. Government just can not BUY jobs that will last and make productive persons a good liveing with out tax payer bailouts of Monetizing the debt or quantitative easing that are the Jay Carney type words of spin that mean PRINT MORE MONEY!!

      September 15, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  8. al in memphis

    If a president and/or his staff is expect to know all things all the time - I see why nobody who could really make a difference want that job. All these agency have some process to evaluate projects, it's the unchecked special interest that can abuse the selection process to their advantage. But it takes two to tango, so you can't have unchecked staff members as well.

    September 14, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • C-Lo

      Which is why we need smaller Gov't without deep pockets. If there isn't huge monetary incentive to corrupt gov't (on both sides) then it won't happen. the more $$ the Gov't controls, the more $ special interests and abusers have access to.

      September 14, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
      • Sonnie2

        You got a BINGO with that post
        Good job

        September 15, 2011 at 9:39 am |
      • Ptrika

        How would having smaller government with shallow pockets help anyone? How would we pay for interstate maintenance and bridge repair? How would we pay for the defense of our country? How would we be able to afford free education thru grade 12? How would we maintain public transportation? How would we monitor disease outbreaks and public health issues in general? How would we make sure our food is safe? How would we regulate insurance and fair housing and aviation? Americans care about each other, we want our elderly to live in comfort and our young educated and we don't want to worry about safe food and drugs and airplanes, buses and trains. We want good affordable health care for everyone. Most of us don't mind paying for it if we can be sure that the system is not corrupted. So fix the system. That is what is really on our minds....how to fix it.

        September 15, 2011 at 11:40 am |
      • C-Lo

        @Ptrika
        The way a smaller govt with shallow pockets would help everyone is that it could and would concentrate on the exact issues you show concern for. Simplify everything.

        Let's say you run a business selling trinkets. You by yourself can run that business and gain all of the profits from selling them, maybe even making them. You decide to diversify and sell trinkets, gadgets, gizmos and do-dads. You now have multiple suppliers, customers, advertising, communications, and locations. You dilute your earnings, but you still are getting more income individually. You have to hire workers, supply chain managers, accountants and on and on. But because you are producing something (a service selling products) and are good at it, customers will support your business and the employees you hire.

        In gov't, on the other hand, the income for all of the "growth" comes from taxes. We are unwilling customers in many of the "products" being "produced" by the govt. The massive size and $$ requires more and more managers (red tape) diluting the effectiveness of the $$ being robbed from our wallets and reducing what is available for "essential" public services–roads, schools, national defense. This leaves more $$ in our pockets to buy the goods and services provided for by the private sector, increasing jobs in productive capacities and generating a stronger economy. It allows US to choose to give money to the charitable causes we hold dear, who can provide aid much more effectively than the govt (think United Way, Red Cross, etc). I'd much rather Red Cross trucks rolling into my town than FEMA after a disaster!

        it allows us to support the product safety groups that have our interests at heart. If these groups are privately, not publicly funded, and they screw up, we give our money elsewhere. When it's gov't run, we have to swallow the pill given us (think SEC and Bernie Madoff, banking, Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae and mortage crisis).

        These are a few reasons smaller govt is better. Shallower pockets mean less incentive for corruption. THIS is how you "spread the wealth."

        September 16, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  9. ja

    so what , after banks and mortgage companies go belly up while get corporate welfare, wall street and entire cities are upside down despite gov't susidies, cities grant corporate tax freezes to attract business, the same companies shutter the doors at will

    September 14, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  10. Thomas

    @ C-Lo

    United States of Hailburton , One Nation in the pocket !

    September 14, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • C-Lo

      Thanks for making my point. 200 years of Dems wanting more control in DC, then after achieving it whine about what is done with that control. Halliburton contract was extended under BO, are you angry with him too?

      For you libs, let me offer some food for thought about your precious party–they are sleeping in the same corporate beds as the Repubs. GE, GM, the banks, Echostar, big oil, big insurance...Corps LIKE big gov't. More regulations mean more barriers to entry strangling out the small businessman. YOU are the ones being played for fools by your party. We know what's happened with the Republican party in the last 20 years–They are Dem's (big gov't) with "conservative" ideas. THIS is what has given rise to the Tea Party movement–we are concerned with where our party was headed (toward more Big Gov't) and want it to move back toward the ideals of States' rights with Limited Fed govt.

      If you don't have deep pockets andthe resources to rob working Americans of their hard earned dollars to pass on to whomever you please, you wouldn't be seeing the Halliburtons, Solyndras, or your AMERICAN TAX DOLLARS funding OVERSEAS corps!

      September 15, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    It it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and flies like a duck, it probably is a duck.

    September 14, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  12. fort collins

    Clearly other companies who received tax payer money for solar boondoggle must be investigated as well. One name comes to mind: Abound Solar and its main investors who had the Kanjorski connections.

    Why wait until these recipients of federal loan guarantees to file for bankruptcy protection? Monitor and investigate them now!!!!!

    September 14, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  13. Susan H.

    Perhaps The President should repay the $535 million out of his campaign funds.

    September 14, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  14. Galactic Cannibal

    Politicians are NOT business people. And this is an example of the worst in politicians decision making. when they get involved in stuff they know nothing about. But worst still Dr. Steven Chu Secretary of Energy did not say STOP. and then add, this technology is inefficient and this company is NOT doing research they are merely installing solar panels on roofs . Our ICEs (Internal Combustion Engines) in cars are 64% efficient. Solar Panels are only 14% efficient. Yet these tucked up politicians, still went ahead and blew 1/2 $billion of tax dollars based on the merits of this company not on the merits of its research,(they had none). So all this money was poured down an energy drain ,.and will any bureaucrat or politician get fired ..NO. ... Its so pathetic that its almost unbelievable. So now the Republicans will waste their time and our money,investigating this mistake and use it as a political football. And they know the same about Solar panels , e.g. nothing. Remember Dr Chu that Solar Panels are energy-transfer inefficient, and because of that , they are non competitive. Do you understand that you high flying PhD. Clearly you don't . You should be fired dude.

    September 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  15. mikle

    OBAMA VISION, OBAMA SMARTNESS, OBAMA SMALL COMMUNIST COMMUNITY ORGANIZER WITH NO EXPERIENCE AND NO Q

    September 14, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
  16. Matt

    Perhaps if the establishment would end the N0 Bid contracts around the globe, and have some competition for exploiting that oil from these developing nations, there would be some extra money for "alternative resources." The fact that the networks are no writing off Ron Paul is bizarre. He made a great point, Get troops away from other parts of the world, we have no business there. There would be billions of dollars closer to trillions if we would get the he** out of others affairs, and put people back to work right here! BIG MEDIA: START TELLING THE TRUTH.

    September 14, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
  17. ss26mar

    James carville has it right fire, indict and fight - oops gotta fire myself; oops I have to indict myself and my buddy holder; oops again how do I fight myself?

    September 15, 2011 at 5:38 am |
  18. no to pork obama

    who could love this idiot, send him back, he wants us to praise him, ain't happening, I say send him back to his cage to play since he is not a TRUE American and definitely is not a Patriot. Down with pigbama and his destructive policies, Revolt America, dethrone the wanna be.

    September 15, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  19. FedUp

    Is that another politician's "truth?" Of course, I believe everything this man says.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:08 am |
  20. Sonnie2

    Jay Carney is the LAP DOG of obama. He would lie threw his teeth and spin the words like a mixmaster. Carney would not know the truth if he seen it. He is a self controled teleprompter with sock on. Both socks are black. And that comes from all the dirty roads he has followed obama on. He reminds me of Bagdad Bob!!!!

    September 15, 2011 at 9:29 am |
  21. Sonnie2

    If our potus would just get of the super words he uses / like/ingenuity/dynamism/Monetizing debt/quantitative Easing and so on and on and instead just use the plain understandable cut and dried truth like
    YES we can or No we can't. Now that would be to straight forward and Carney would not be able to put the spinmasters forked tounge on the subject.

    September 15, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  22. Terry

    And in the meawhile ."..Nobel Prize winning Physicist resigns over Global warming"

    NASA
    The global warming theory left him out in the cold.

    Dr. Ivar Giaever, a former professor with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the 1973 winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday, Sept. 13, from the premier physics society in disgust over its officially stated policy that "global warming is occurring."

    http://www.climatechangedispatch.com/home/9383-nobel-prize-winning-physicist-resigns-over-global-warming

    September 15, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  23. RDriftwood

    The gop continues to ignore the trillions of dollars they wasted on the inexcusable and criminal war for profit in Iraq, yet they try to make a big deal out of Solyndra. At least with Solyndra there was good intent to provide jobs, and thousands weren't killed needlessly.

    September 15, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  24. Jill-IN

    We all love to hear the stories from now famous people who started up successful American businesses and what they all tell us is they failed many times before their "success" came. They are not disparaged or hated for trying and failing. In fact, we love the American success story of trying over and over for success. Now it is politically convenient for the GOP to use this as an example of failure and their opposition to solar energy. How ironic that they are in bed with the oil industry and would never disparage them – even in the wake of oil spill disasters such as we experienced only one year ago.

    September 15, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • C-Lo

      You're right Jill, we do love to hear the try-try again, fail-fail-fail-succeed stories. What we don't like is the fail on the taxpayer dime, fail on the taxpayer dime, fail on the taxpayer dime, succeed and keep the proceeds story (including TARP et.al.) And it's even more poisonous when it happens in economies like this.

      The other half of it is, where is the uproar from the left for greasing the palms of a billionaire in a failed venture? GET THIS MONEY (taxpayers' money) OUT OF WASHINGTON!!! Reduce DC influence and pocket depth. This bad GOVT backed loan is the same BS that brought down the housing market. IT HAS TO STOP!

      September 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  25. Pete

    Obama has no clue how to run a country
    Remeber Carter he couldm't run a Peanut stand nevermind a Country
    Obama just gives big money to people who promise to support him (even if they are going Bankrupt)
    Obama is a SNAKE OIL SALEMAN

    September 16, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  26. Marty Gnoff

    Solyndra is the tip of the iceberg. The controversy here is that DOE lied about doing due diligence and passed Solyndra through while intentionally delaying others that competed with DOE's officers business interests. The DOE could have safely diversified its bets with 40 small america business applicants but they blew the money on a few inside special interest applicants who paid lobby money while freezing out those small American businesses and jobs. Subpeona's will show that Lachlan Seward, of the DOE, ordered staff and consultant's to change their review criteria and findings in order to manipulate winners and losers.

    Look into the ones that didn't get in because they didn't bribe the right people.

    The site: http://corruptiondoe.weebly.com has the real truth about Solyndra and beyond...

    It shows that: – Only campaign contributors received funding from the DOE ATVM and Loan programs and competitors to those interests were frozen out. – Key White House staff were informed of the misdeeds but they covered them up. – A criminally illegal protection investor money racket was being run by individuals in, and around, the DOE funding programs, Detroit and Goldman Sachs. – Detroit ordered all competing efforts killed off or permanently delayed. – Tesla is involved in the same influence-buying scam and financials fudging here Everybody knows about the site, above. Hundreds of thousands of people have seen it. Nobody can ignore the facts here. This was all pay-to-play.

    (OK to Forward this)

    September 16, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  27. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @C-lo; I do truly respect the point that 'Dems' or 'Libs' are sleeping in the same bed as the 'Repubs' or 'Cons', however, I also believe that the Cons have slept in that 'bed', wallered in it, got up changed the linen and got back in it over and over; and for years, through many administrations; Dems or Repubs! Greed of human nature will kick in sooner or later, especially when it's looking dismal that nothing will EVER get done in DC, bi-partisanly! A few Dems probably have concluded..'I GOTTA GET me ME'!

    September 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • C-Lo

      The point of that, Liz is that the Dem's created the bed in the first place by advocating bigger Fed Govt which makes cozy quarters for the greed and scammers from either side. If there wasn't this much influence and money in DC, there wouldn't be this much corruption. You don't see 1970's Ford Pinto's at the top of the list for car thieves because there is no money to be made. I believe that more than a "few Dems" are just as guilty.

      September 19, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  28. Liz Carter in Georgia

    So how can you say DEMS created the bed in the first place? Under what DEMOCRATIC administration are you claiming the bed was created? And are you telling me the REPUBS had nothing to do with it's erection? Are you alleging that the BIG OLD BED idea was FIRST concieved by DEMS? Big Government was implemented long before President OBAMA was elected, BTW. Yes, I know fraud and greed have no respect of most governments, political parties, race, business, religions, genders, groups, regions, just to list a few.

    September 21, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • C-Lo

      Very easy, Liz. You are right, this was created over the last 200+ years. It is one of the most enduring "fights" in America. We have uniquely established a system of multiple govts to whom we are accountable. local, city, county, state and federal. Realistically this debate goes all the way back to the founding of the nation and a great source is the Federalist Papers.

      The debate can be simplified into Federal vs. State rights and the power and responsibility of each. With these lines drawn, the Dems have sided with the Federalist ideal of a larger, stronger Federal gov't at the expense of state and individual rights. Republicans, traditionally, have advocated for smaller Fed and as an extention State power, advocating for individual rights and responsibilities. That's the groundwork and justification for saying the DEMSS created the bed to begin with.

      The sheets were placed with the liberal (descriptor not ideology, though both apply) interpretation of the Interstate Commerce Clause which has paved the way for nearly all of the contentious legislation beginning with the New Deal.

      Way too much detail to go into here, but yes, that is how I can justly say Dems created the bed. True Repubs (I have called Bush a Democrat with "conservative ideals" if you remember, or read that post) believe in smaller central govt and Libertarians, whom I feel closer affiliation with, are even further toward that idea. Take a look at Ron Paul's ideology on line, not the debates, to get a better understanding of where I stand (though some of his is a little far off, even for me).

      September 21, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  29. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Greed is 'KING' in this nation, and runs rampant and deep. Problem is when is enough, ENOUGH? The more they make, the more they take, THE MORE THEY WANT! They are the smallest percentage of the population, but hold the pursestrings to ALL of the wealth; yet they have maintained the audacity to, mainly conservatives, still ask the largest percentage of the American population, which includes the poor, for more and to give up more! It's not fair nor is it right! Greedy are ones sucking the nation dry!

    September 21, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • C-Lo

      Liz, you talk about "fair." Your definition of fair, from what I can tell, is fairness of outcome. My definition of "fair" is fairness of opportunity. If the govt is in control of "fair" neither of us will win the day. As I've said, a smaller gov't with less influence creates lower barriers to entry, providing a level (fair) playing field. The only true way to fairness of outcome would be in a perfectly run communist society, which because of human nature, is impossible to obtain. Strike that, it is obtainable, it's just that the fair outcome is not one I would wish on anyone except those who ask for it.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  30. citizentobe

    You guys are so naive. This President is bringin down this great nation to the corruption levels of a third-world country.The only difference is that there you are talking about billions of PESOS. Here is billions of USD.......

    October 8, 2011 at 5:51 pm |