Update: OMB Stalls on Solyndra Docs

by William Yeatman on July 26, 2011

in Blog

Yesterday morning I reported on an intensifying showdown between two branches of government over a controversial loan guarantee issued to Solyndra, Inc., a California-based rooftop solar components manufacturer. In a nutshell, the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (of the Energy and Commerce Committee) is looking into whether Solyndra’s $535 million loan guarantee had anything to do with the fact that the solar company’s chief financial backer was a major fundraiser for President Barack Obama’s campaign. Further casting suspicion on the loan guarantee was its suspicious timing, almost 10 months before the next such issuance. Only months after the loan guarantee was granted, Solyndra suffered major financial difficulties, and the company had to shutter a plant. Since January, the Subcommittee has been investigating whether taxpayer dollars were put at undue risk so that the President could reward a political friend, but the Office of Management and Budget has stonewalled the inquiry. The OMB has refused to produce documents, and also to send a representative to testify before the Subcommittee. After months of obfuscation, the Subcommittee got fed up, and voted on July 14 to subpoena documents from the OMB. These documents were due yesterday morning at 9:00 A.M.

Last night, Energy and Environment News PM reported that OMB failed to produce any information, and instead asked for until Friday to produce almost 300 pages of documents. E&E PM reporter John McArdle quoted this email reaction from a Subcommittee staffer:

“The subpoena was clear and reasonably allowed OMB one week to provide the documents in question, yet OMB failed to turn over a single page. The committee has exercised extraordinary patience and it’s well past time for OMB to abandon the gamesmanship and finally turn over the documents that we have been seeking since March 14.”

So far, there has been no update on the Energy and Commerce website. I’ll update this ongoing story when I know more.

hemp July 26, 2011 at 2:20 pm

A congressional subcommittee investigating a 535 million loan guarantee to a politically-connected California solar panel maker sought answers Friday from the Office of Management and Budget but the sole witness didn t show up.The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations has pressed for internal documents from OMB that could shed light on the loan guarantee for Solyndra Inc. Jeffrey Zients OMB s deputy director was asked to testify at Friday s hearing.Zients wrote to the committee that his schedule precluded his appearance and Democrats contended the hearing was little more than political theater.OMB s absence could signal increased tensions between the Obama administration and the Republican House which is aggressively investigating the stimulus-funded loan guarantee to Solyndra.Subcommittee Chair Cliff Stearns R-Fla. said that if the budget office refuses to comply in the coming weeks he might seek a subpoena to force disclosure.The subcommittee is investigating whether the Energy Department and budget office diligently vetted the loan and the internal documents could reveal whether the budget office had reservations.

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