“We remain willing to work with the committee to accommodate its legitimate oversight interests in a balanced manner. Given the breadth of the subpoena, I hope that the committee’s public statement that it intends to negotiate the scope of any document production is sincere.”
Republicans said they had hoped to avoid the step, but that the committee’s long-running investigation had failed to get to the bottom of why Solyndra, which collapsed in August and is now under criminal investigation, was selected to receive the Obama administration’s first loan guarantee under the stimulus act. President Obama last year visited the company’s California operation, whose biggest investors were venture capital funds linked to Tulsa billionaire George Kaiser, a major Obama fundraiser.
A Republican-led House panel on Thursday agreed to subpoena the White House for documents related to Solyndra Inc., the failed California solar company that received a half-billion-dollar federal loan. (Nov. 3)
Some Republicans have questioned whether the administration rushed stimulus funding out the door to benefit its political supporters. On Oct. 14, the White House had told the committee that it would not comply with a request for all internal White House communications regarding the Solyndra loan.
Following the committee’s vote on Thursday, a White House official said the administration had cooperated extensively with the committee’s investigation, producing more than 85,000 pages of documents, including 20,000 pages Thursday afternoon, and having administration officials provide multiple briefings and hearings.
“The White House has also already provided over 900 pages of documents in response to requests we have received. And all of the materials that have been disclosed affirm what we said on day one: This was a merit-based decision made by the Department of Energy,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.
“We’d like to see as much passion in House Republicans for creating jobs as we see in this investigation. The White House has been clear with the committee that we are willing to cooperate with legitimate oversight requests that are tailored to balance the important institutional interests of both branches. We are disappointed that the committee has refused to discuss their requests with us in good faith, and has instead chosen a partisan route, proceeding with subpoenas that are unprecedented and unwarranted.”
“I regret that we have reached this place,” Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), chairman of the subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said Thursday morning at a meeting of the panel. “The committee has been investigating this for over eight months and has clearly established the legitimacy of our investigation. Two of the first three companies to receive loan guarantees have now filed for bankruptcy protection.
President Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu visited Solyndra’s plant before its demise, and Vice President Biden spoke at a groundbreaking ceremony for its new factory via live video. At the time, each described the company as a model of the administration’s effort to create millions of new “green” American jobs.
Last week’s subpoena was the second that the Energy and Commerce Committee issued in the matter. On July 14, 2011, Republicans on the committee’s oversight panel voted on party lines to subpoena Solyndra-related documents from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.