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Posted at 09:30 AM ET, 11/10/2011

The Obama administration’s e-mail trail

The Obama administration has gotten snared in its own e-mails. Yesterday we learned about the goings-on at the National Labor Relations Board:

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has received documents from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) concerning the NLRB’s decision to file a lawsuit against Seattle-based Boeing for opening a $750 million non-union assembly plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, to manufacture its Dreamliner plane (Judicial Watch v. National Labor Relations Board (No. 11-1470)).
The documents, obtained pursuant to Judicial Watch’s original July 14, 2011, Freedom of Information Act request and subsequent lawsuit, include internal correspondence amongst NLRB attorneys discussing the Boeing lawsuit. Among the highlights:
* On April 22, 2011, Acting NLRB General Counsel Lafe Solomon sent an email to Wilma Liebman, outgoing Chairwoman of the NLRB, “The article gave me a new idea. You go to geneva [Switzerland] and I get a job with airbus [French company]. We screwed up the us economy and now we can tackle europe.” Solomon’s comment was in response to an article published in French on the European Planet Labor website noting the devastating potential economic impact on South Carolina if the plant were to be scuttled: “Two billion dollars were invested in Charleston, 1,000 employees were recruited, and the site was supposed to open in July… until the NLRB meddled in.”
* On April 22, 2011, NLRB attorney Debra Willen received an email, in which Republican Sen. James DeMint of South Carolina is ridiculed as “Sen. Dement.”

You get the idea. Not surprisingly, presidential contender Mitt Romney, who consistently has blasted the NLRB for the Boeing case, put out a statement, which said that the emails “reveal a disturbing and cavalier attitude about job losses that are a direct result of NLRB policies. If President Obama is serious about getting America back to work ‘right now,’ he should start by immediately dismissing Mr. Solomon and sending a message throughout his Administration that our country’s jobs crisis isn’t a laughing matter.”

Obliviousness to the e-mail trail also is playing a part in the unraveling of the Solyndra scandal. The Associated Press reports: “Newly released emails show that, contrary to White House claims, a major donor to President Barack Obama pushed for a loan to a solar energy company that later went bankrupt.”

That report about donor George Kaiser doesn’t mesh with the story the White House has been putting out:

In one email released Wednesday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Kaiser said that when he and a foundation official visited the White House last year, officials showed “thorough knowledge of the Solyndra story, suggesting it was one of their prime poster children” for renewable energy.
In another email, a Kaiser associate appears confident that Energy Secretary Steven Chu would approve a second loan for Solyndra.
“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, managing director of Kaiser’s venture-capital firm, Argonaut Private Equity, wrote in a March 5, 2010, e-mail. Mitchell also served on Solyndra’s board of directors.

There’s a reason why e-mail can be a treasure trove or a smoking gun, depending on your perspective, in litigation. But aside from the lack of appreciation for the potency of e-mail evidence, what is striking is the arrogance of power. One senses in these snippets of conversation that the participants think the public is either to be minimally humored or exploited for private gain.

If there are any “poster children,” it is this cast of characters, who are a vivid example of the dangers of a large, meddlesome bureaucracy. Even well-intentioned functionaries don’t have the skill or knowledge to make wise decisions (e.g., pick winning and losing tech companies). But many aren’t even trying to get it right.

By  |  09:30 AM ET, 11/10/2011

Categories:  Obama White House

 
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