The document releases came in two waves, first from Republicans on a House committee investigating Solyndra and then from angry committee Democrats, who argued that a selective release of materials gave a misleading picture of Kaiser’s role. Together, the e-mails and interview notes released by battling sides offered the most complete picture yet of Kaiser’s access to the Obama administration and his interest in helping Solyndra win additional federal support.
Kaiser worried in February 2010 that his involvement might be questioned if an investigative reporter should discover his connection to Solyndra and link it to the names on President Obama’s bundlers list, one e-mail shows. But his associate assured him that because he had not personally lobbied the White House, controversy could be averted.
Kaiser was a bundler for Obama’s 2008 campaign and has been a frequent White House visitor, using meetings with top officials to seek stimulus funds for Tulsa-based projects and to discuss his charitable projects, he has said. His family foundation was the biggest investor in Solyndra, but he has denied that he had any involvement in discussions of Solyndra’s 2009 federal loan.
Republicans investigating the failed solar company have seized on Kaiser’s Solyndra connection to allege that Obama donors got preferential treatment under the stimulus program. The White House has denied the allegation, saying that Solyndra’s loan and all other Energy Department loans were based on merit.
On Wednesday, Kaiser spokesman Renzi Stone responded to the new documents in an e-mail: “To reaffirm our previous public statements, George Kaiser had no discussions with the government regarding the loan to Solyndra.”
The e-mails show discussion between Kaiser and Steve Mitchell, the manager of his family investment fund, who also served on Solyndra’s board, about how to appeal to the White House for assistance in winning federal contracts.
In a separate e-mail, Kaiser describes a White House stimulus meeting at which Solyndra came up. Every official at the meeting had a “thorough knowledge” of Solyndra and described it as a poster child of their program, he wrote.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the e-mail threads were incomplete and out of context but supported the administration’s position that it had done nothing wrong.