The beleaguered top executives of failed solar firm Solyndra refused to answer any questions on Friday at what had been a highly anticipated House hearing to probe the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, an FBI investigation, and the $535 million in federal loan guarantees the start-up received from the Obama administration.
“As much as I wish to be able to answer members’ questions, I’ve been advised by our counsel that the better course of action is to assert my constitutional right to decline questions,” Solyndra Chief Executive Officer Brian Harrison told Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns, R-Fla. “While I hope to assist this committee’s inquiry in the future, the advice of my attorney is I must respectfully decline to answer questions.”
Solyndra Chief Financial Officer W.G. Stover also invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to testify.
Republicans lectured Harrison and Stover on their company’s failings and what effect it is having on Washington’s support for renewable energy.
“Let me just warn you and the other folks involved in this taxpayer ripoff,” House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., bellowed to the silent witnesses at the hearing’s onset. “We’re not done. No we’re not.”
Republicans on the panel on Friday reiterated calls to hear testimony from Energy Secretary Steven Chu about his role in approving the loan guarantee and the decision to restructure the loan in February.
Lawyers for the executives had told the House Energy and Commerce Committee earlier this week that they would invoke their Fifth Amendment rights after initially telling Congress they would testify.
Solyndra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Aug. 31; FBI agents raided the company’s California headquarters on Sept. 8.