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Energy / ENERGY

House Democrats Focus on Solyndra Legal Memo

Solyndra headquarters in Freemont, Calif.(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

photo of Amy Harder
October 14, 2011

House Democrats Friday urged Republicans leading the congressional probe into Solyndra to release an Energy Department memo that they say shows the administration’s legal rationale for restructuring the $535 million federal loan guarantee of the now-defunct solar manufacturer. 

A spokeswoman for House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said the committee would release the memo, but did not immediately do so. National Journal obtained a copy of the memo.

House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee allege that the Energy Department violated the Energy Policy Act of 2005 when it restructured Solyndra’s loan earlier this year and made the government’s debt obligation secondary—or "subordinate"—to that of private investors, including a foundation founded by oil billionaire George Kaiser, a major 2008 bundler for Barack Obama's presidential campaign. Republicans released e-mails last week that they said show the Treasury Department believed DOE broke the law.

 

But at a House hearing Friday on Solyndra, Democrats complained that Republicans did not invite an Energy Department official to testify alongside two Treasury Department officials.

“The majority has even objected to the minority’s request to release the Feb. 15, 2011, memorandum by counsel for the DOE loan program that was produced to the committee,” House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee ranking member Diana DeGette, D-Colo., said at the hearing. “In this memo, DOE counsel provides a detailed analysis of the subordination issue, the statutory authorities in question, and DOE’s position.”

Waxman waved the six-page memo for everyone in the hearing room to see, but by noon it had yet to be publicly released.

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