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Homepage / ENERGY

QUICK TAKE: E-mails Suggest DOE Put Politics Above Economics With Solyndra

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu speaks during the National Clean Energy Summit, Aug. 30, in Las Vegas.(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

photo of Amy Harder
November 16, 2011

In another e-mail released by House Republicans on Wednesday, the Energy Department was described as putting politics above economics in considering the now-bankrupt Solyndra and its $535 million loan guarantee.

“The DOE really thinks politically before it thinks economically and in a conversation today with [name redacted] he confirmed this (he knows Jonathan Silver – head of the DOE loan program,” states a Dec. 7, 2010, e-mail from Steve Mitchell, managing director of venture-capital firm Argonaut and a member of Solyndra’s board of directors, to George Kaiser, an Oklahoma oil billionaire who bundled campaign donations for presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008. Kaiser founded Argonaut, which is the major investor in Solyndra.

This e-mail correspondence came at a time when DOE, Solyndra, and its private investors were considering whether to restructure the company’s loan as it was struggling financially. Ultimately, DOE decided to restructure the loan and put new private investment worth $75 million from Argonaut ahead of the government’s debt in the event of a Solyndra default. Republicans charge that subordination of the government’s interest violates the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the law that created DOE’s loan program.

 

Energy Secretary Steven Chu testifies to a House investigative committee about the Solyndra loan on Thursday.

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