The Washington Post

Solyndra-White House relationship has digital legacy it can’t escape

The solar energy company Solyndra’s bankruptcy was going to be bad news for the White House no matter what. It’s not good when an administration that has made stimulus spending a linchpin of its economic recovery plan has a half a billion dollars in loans hanging in the balance to a company that goes bankrupt. Especially when the loan program in quesion is reportedly not creating jobs at the pace expected.

My Washington Post colleagues Carol Leonning and Joe Stephens had to do some leatherstrap reporting to uncover the White House e-mails that showed the administration had asked for an expedited loan process. But other ties between the Obama administration and the company are plainly viewable through simple, public Web searches. Solyndra loan information, along with the information for thousands of other companies recieving federal stimulus money, is up for all to see on the administration’s Recovery.Gov Web site. A search on the White House Web site actually finds 24 separate items mentioning the company. Such is life in the permanent digital age where everything is archived and indexed for posterity. Or at least as long as people can troll for them on Google.

As Brad Plummer of Wonkblog points out in an excellent rundown of myths surrounding the Solyndra deal, there is no evidence of cronyism or impropriety. The digital leftovers of happier times between Solyndra in the White House are not any kind of smoking gun. Rather, it’s just bad optics. It’s like a very high-level version of a college graduate job candidate forgetting to take down a MySpace profile created in middle school.

That is to say that if the image makers at the White House had their say, they probably wouldnt’t have this post up on the White House Web site.


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