The agency authorized the Federal Financing Bank to give two additional cash installments to Solyndra — one in December 2010 and another in January 2011. Both payments came before Energy Department officials finalized a deal to restructure the loan and forestall the company’s collapse in late February.
On Capitol Hill, Republicans continued to complain Thursday that the Obama administration and Chu had not protected taxpayers.
Executives from Solyndra, a failed California solar panel company, come to Washington to testify on how the firm went bankrupt despite a $535 million federal loan guarantee. They are expected to invoke their right against self incrimination. (Sept. 23)
The collapse of California solar panel manufacturer Solyndra raises new questions about President Obama's push for alternative energy — and whether White House pressure played a role in a loan guarantee that has taxpayers on the hook for millions. (Sept. 16)
“Why was the leadership at DOE so stubborn, ignoring every warning sign that Solyndra was a bad bet, continuing to throw good money after bad right up until Solyndra’s fate was sealed and taxpayers were left holding the bag on DOE’s $535 million bust?” said Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce oversight and investigations subcommittee.
Chu is tentatively scheduled to appear before the subcommittee next month. The House probe seeks to determine whether the White House sought to help Solyndra for political reasons. The nature of the separate criminal probe was first reported in an online story by Bloomberg News on Thursday evening. The leading private investors in Solyndra were investment funds tied to Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser, a prominent fundraiser for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Some Democrats also have questioned Chu’s decision, including Rep. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Rep. Gene Green (D-Tex.) said Thursday that he wants to know why Chu restructured Solyndra’s loan to put taxpayers behind a group of private investors to be repaid if the company went bankrupt. Two investors, including an equity fund tied to Kaiser, provided an additional $75 million to keep the company afloat.
“I guess I’m surprised that Secretary Chu made the decision earlier this year to give the private sector priority over the federal commitment, because your fiduciary duty is to the taxpayer, and not to an applicant. . . . Your responsibility is to the American people,” Green said.
Staff writer David A. Fahrenthold contributed to this report.
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