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OMB and Solyndra: Something to Hide?



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The collapse of Solyndra, the solar panel company to which the federal government extended more than half a billion in loan guarantees as part of the stimulus package, ought to be a national disgrace in and of itself. That said, there could very well be even more damning revelations on the horizon regarding the nature of the Obama administration’s involvement — through the Office of Management and Budget and Department of Energy — in the debacle. House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce committee have been seeking information from the administration regarding Solyndra since February 2011, but White House officials have repeatedly stonewalled these efforts, as illustrated by this timeline:

February 17, 2011 – Committee Leaders submit a letter to Energy Secretary Chu seeking documents and information about the $535 million loan guarantee that the DOE Loan Guarantee Program awarded Solyndra, Inc. DOE complies with the request.

March 14, 2011 – Committee Leaders submit a letter to OMB requesting key documents and information concerning the review of the Solyndra loan guarantee. A two week deadline is set.

March 17, 2011 – Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations holds a hearing on DOE Recovery Act Spending.March 28, 2011 – OMB fails to meet the Committee deadline.

June 7, 2011 – After weeks of back and forth, an in camera review takes place with Committee staff and OMB staff. OMB selected eight emails between OMB and DOE to make available to Committee staff, and refused to produce the rest of the emails or the agreed-upon internal OMB emails and documents.

June 23, 2011 – Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns responded in a letter to OMB after it refused to share requested documents by the Committee regarding the Solyndra loan guarantee investigation.

June 24, 2011 – The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing regarding OMB’s Role in the DOE Loan Guarantee Process. Sole witness Jeffrey Zients, Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget was a no show.

July 11, 2011 – Committee staff conduct a second in camera review. Committee staff asked OMB about the production of the other categories of documents sought by this Committee, specifically, OMB’s internal communications and documents relating to Solyndra, and its communications with the White House. As the OMB had done for months, OMB staff refused to provide and answer about whether they would produce these materials, and instead maintained that the OMB-DOE communications sufficiently show whether or not OMB had has done its job with regard to Solyndra.

July 12, 2011 – Energy and Commerce Committee leaders announced the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations were to hold a business meeting on Thursday, July 14, 2011 to consider a motion authorizing the issuance of a subpoena for certain records of the Office and Management and Budget relating to the Department of Energy’s issuance of a loan guarantee to Solyndra, Inc. on September 2, 2009.

July 13, 2011 – Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns wrote a letter to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to provide a final opportunity to avoid the issuance of a subpoena.  OMB refused.

July 14, 2011 – The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a business meeting to consider the issuance of the subpoena. The Subcommittee voted to issue the subpoena 14 to 8.

July 15, 2011 – The subpoena is issued to OMB, setting a July 22, 2011, deadline.

July 22, 2011 – OMB fails to meet the subpoena’s dealing. Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns informs OMB that they have failed to comply with the subpoena issued on July 15, 2011 regarding the Solyndra loan guarantee. Chairman Stearns requested that OMB produce the documents no later than 9:00 a.m. Monday, July 25, 2011.

July 25, 2011 – OMB fails to produce the documents by 9:00am deadline.

August 2011 – OMB agrees to produce all documents necessary to the Committee’s investigation, with appropriate safeguards relating to proprietary information. Production continues.

Raising the question: What do they have to hide?



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