Pleading the Fifth may make legal sense, but it amounts to political suicide.
Witness the testimony on Friday of two top executives at Solyndra, the solar-panel company that got a half-billion dolalrs — yes, that’s billion with a B — in guaranteed government loans from the Energy Department before declaring bankruptcy this month.
The two men, chief executive Brian Harrison and CFO Bill Stover, sat stone-faced at the hearing in front of the decidedly fired-up Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“We have a great heist of over half a billion dollars and possibly even willing collaborators, maybe even co-conspirators, called the U.S. government,” said the panel’s chairman, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.).
Since Solyndra’s top brass had recently said all was just fine at the company, they had some explaining to do. “You lied to me about the financial health of your company,” added Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.). “I guess a lot can happen in five weeks.”
The image of the silent Harrison and Stover won’t win them any allies in Washington. And it ensures that the probe into how Solyndra won the initial loan in 2009, as part of a push by the Obama administration on green energy and jobs, will not only continue — the Justice Department has opened an investigation — but grow.
Solyndra, for saying so much by saying nothing at all, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Can’t remember who won “Worst Week” last week?