President Obama’s staff arranged for him to be personally briefed last summer on a loan program to help clean-energy companies, two months before the program was thrust into headlines by the collapse of its flagship, the solar company Solyndra, records show.
About the same time, then-White House Chief of Staff William Daley resolved a dispute among administration officials over another project in the program, clearing the way for a $1.4 billion loan, according to documents and sources familiar with the situation.
The documents, a series of e-mails among Energy Department staff members involved in managing the program, provide new details about the level of White House involvement in the controversial initiative. White House officials have said in the past that final decisions about which companies would receive the loan guarantees were made by career staff members at the Energy Department, not political appointees.
Administration officials said Wednesday that the e-mails show that the White House involvement was appropriate and that there was no pressure on agency officials.
That loan program, a signature piece of the Obama administration’s effort to stimulate the economy, has become a major issue in this year’s presidential campaign. Republicans have charged that the program wasted critical stimulus money meant to create jobs, spending it instead on ill-advised projects that benefited Democratic fundraisers.