FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
BREAKING: White House Pressured OMB to Approve Solyndra Loan Before Due Diligence Complete
Things are going from bad to worse for the White House on the Solyndra collapse. It is embarrassing enough for the President that his highly touted “green jobs” stimulus success story folded like a cheap suit leaving 1100 people out of jobs and leaving the tax payers with a bill upwards of half a billion dollars. Now, the Washington Post is reporting that political officials in the White House pressured the OMB to approve the massive federal loan to Solyndra before the OMB’s due diligence was complete:
The August 2009 e-mails, released exclusively to The Washington Post, show White House officials repeatedly asking OMB reviewers when they would be able to decide on the federal loan and noting a looming press event at which they planned to announce the deal. In response, OMB officials expressed concern that they were being rushed to approve the company’s project without adequate time to assess the risk to taxpayers, according to information provided by Republican congressionalinvestigators.
Solyndra collapsed two weeks ago, leaving taxpayers liable for the $535 million loan.
One e-mail from an OMB official referred to “the time pressure we are under to sign-off on Solyndra.” Another complained, “There isn’t time to negotiate.”
“We have ended up with a situation of having to do rushed approvals on a couple of occasions (and we are worried about Solyndra at the end of the week),” one official wrote. That Aug. 31, 2009, message, written by a senior OMB staffer and sent to Terrell P. McSweeny, Biden’s domestic policy adviser, concluded, “We would prefer to have sufficient time to do our due diligence reviews.”
** SNIP **
The e-mail exchanges could intensify questions about whether the administration was playing favorites and made costly errors while choosing the first recipient of a loan guarantee under its stimulus program. Solyndra’s biggest investors were funds operated on behalf of the family foundation of Tulsa billionaire and Obama fundraiser George Kaiser. Although he has been a frequent White House visitor, Kaiser has said he did not use political influence to win approval of the loan.
The more evidence that comes out about the Solyndra debacle, the more the focus shifts from the foolishness of dumping taxpayer money after pipe dreams to open corruption creating a half a billion dollar slush fund for one of the President’s political friends. It is reprehensible that when the United States is facing a financial crisis caused in large part by irresponsible lending practices, the White House is engaging in even worse loan chicanery with the taxpayers’ money.