POTUS Briefed on Program Before Solyndra Collapse

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• August 9, 2012 11:44 am


Newly released emails detail a presidential briefing last summer on the Department of Energy’s loan program to help green energy companies, the Washington Post reports. According to the documents, Energy Secretary Steven Chu briefed Obama in June 2011, two months before the President’s Solyndra nightmare began.

The documents, provided to The Washington Post by Republican investigators for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, show that White House aides asked Energy Secretary Steven Chu to deliver a June 27, 2011, presentation to the president on the status of the loan program. The interest in a presidential briefing came as other senior administration figures were challenging parts of the program and debating whether the Energy Department was cutting deals that gave "unjust enrichment" to private companies.

The head of the DOE’s loan office, Jonathan Silver, claimed "total victory" after the meeting with Obama.

After the meeting, Jonathan Silver, the director of the Energy Department’s loan office, celebrated "total victory" over his administration opponents. He described in an e-mail to a colleague how Chu came as "close to an annihilation of the economic team’s position as you could possibly hope for." Silver speculated that Daley had given the economic team "a fig leaf" and that the Energy Department’s victory was cause to "do some serious gloating."

A draft of Energy Department talking points prepared for the presidential briefing highlights that the program had committed more than $34 billion and asserted that it had created or saved 68,000 jobs. Those talking points forecast little risk from the program, although Solyndra was already showing signs of distress: The department months earlier had negotiated a loan restructuring amid threats that the firm would have to liquidate for lack of operating cash.

Previously released Solyndra emails revealed a critical role played by one of Obama’s biggest fundraisers, Steve Spinner.