The Energy Department attempted to help an Obama money-man recoup his losses from the bankrupt, federally backed solar panel company Solyndra ahead of taxpayers.
The federal government guaranteed more than $500 million of the company’s loans as part of the stimulus program, but the company soon folded. In the wake of the bankruptcy, Energy Department officials attempted to override contracts guaranteeing that taxpayer dollars would be returned first, in order to reimburse private investors tied to the Obama campaign, according to records unearthed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The Washington Examiner reports:
Administration officials have argued it was necessary to attract private capital to support the company. But they may have had another motivation. Argonaut is the investment vehicle The George Kaiser Family Foundation. Through it GKFF owned a 35% stake in Solyndra. Despite being called a foundation, GKFF is not a nonprofit in the conventional understanding of the term, but an exotic variation that allows the wealthy to park their assets tax-free. The foundation’s namesake is a major fundraiser of President Obama’s. He was often a guest in the White House and even discussed Solyndra with officials there.
The department’s legal team drafted an opinion that would have allowed Kaiser to recoup its funds over taxpayers, despite fierce opposition from the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget.
The Energy Department nevertheless had its in-house lawyer produce an analysis saying that Energy Secretary had authority to renegotiate the terms and remove the subordination language. Apparently administration officials attempted to justify this to the committee staff by saying that the use of the word “is” in the statute was “confined only to the moment the Secretary issues the guarantee.”