Newly released e-mails show that George Kaiser, an Oklahoma billionaire and key fundraiser for President Obama, was deeply involved in lobbying the administration to provide federal stimulus funds to Solyndra, a now-bankrupt solar-energy firm in which Kaiser was the major investor. Solyndra eventually received a $535 million loan but defaulted this year, leaving taxpayers on the hook.
The e-mails, released by House Republicans on Wednesday, also indicate that Energy Secretary Steven Chu was personally involved in Solyndra’s loan application—which, if proved true, would be damning for Chu as he gears up to testify in front of a House committee next week.
The e-mails show that Kaiser and two executives at his venture-capital firm and his family foundation corresponded about how to get another loan guarantee for Solyndra in 2010—after the company already was awarded a $535 million loan guarantee in September 2009. That never happened, but the executives seemed confident it would in an e-mail exchange in March 2010.
“It appears things are headed in the right direction and Chu is apparently staying involved in Solyndra’s application and continues to talk up the company as a success story,” Steve Mitchell, of Kaiser’s venture-capital firm Argonaut, wrote to Kaiser in a March 5, 2010, e-mail.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz in a statement defended the administration’s actions on Solyndra.
“Even the documents cherry-picked by House Republicans today affirm what we have said all along: This loan was a decision made on the merits at the Department of Energy. Nothing in the 85,000 pages of documents produced thus far by the administration or in these four indicate any favoritism to political supporters.”