Greenlighting Solyndra

Main players in the Solyndra saga were interconnected in many ways, as investors enjoyed access to the White House and the Energy Department. Some of the key connections:

Jonathan Silver ran the department’s loan guarantee program. He helped a nearly-broke Solyndra restructure its loan.

Steven Chu, Obama’s energy secretary, touted investors’ continued support of Solyndra and approved loosening rules so the failing firm could receive more federal money.

Christian Gronet, Solyndra’s founder, reportedly made “moronic” missteps, according to one investment adviser, who said Gronet was retained for his close relationship with Energy Department leaders.

Brian Harrison, CEO who replaced Gronet in 2010, told Congress that the company was in good financial shape six weeks before it shut down.

President Obama visited Solyndra in May 2010 and called the company a model of his initiative to grow clean-technology jobs.

Vice President Biden was tentatively scheduled to announce a $535 million federal stimulus loan to Solyndra at a public event, so the White House pushed loan reviewers to make a quick financing decision.

Ron Klain, then Biden’s chief of staff, dismissed auditor’s concerns about Solyndra’s solvency, reasoning that all innovative companies come with risk.

Rahm Emanuel, then-chief of staff to Obama, reportedly pushed for Obama to become involved with Solyndra. He says he doesn’t remember that.

Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to Obama, was warned before the president’s visit that Solyndra’s financial prospects were poor.

Steve Westly, an Obama fundraiser and investment fund manager, warned Jarrett that Solyndra’s financial prospects were bad and urged that the president’s visit be reconsidered.

George Kaiser, billionaire and bundler for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, closely tracked Solyndra and the firm handling his family foundation’s money, which owned more than a third of Solyndra. A frequent White House vistor, he discussed solar panels with the president at a Las Vegas dinner in 2010.

Steve Mitchell, a Solyndra board member and investment adviser to Kaiser’s family foundation, kept Kaiser briefed on efforts to win DOE help for Solynda, and the news that the agency would agree to pay off investors before taxpayers if investors provided more money to keep the company operating.

Thomas Baruch, a Solyndra board member and owner of a company that held millions of dollars of Solyndra stock, reportedly met with Emanuel at least once in 2010 and scheduled a later White House meeting. At least three companies in which he invested received federal assistance.

SOURCE: Staff Reports. GRAPHIC: Bonnie Berkowitz, Carol Leonnig, Laura Stanton, Joe Stephens and Sisi Wei - The Washington Post. Published December 2011.

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See the key events, and explore the primary documents, in the rise and fall of the bankrupt solar company.

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