The Corner

E-mails Show WH Ignored Repeated Warnings About Solyndra’s Financial Health

The Wall Street Journal reports on the release of new e-mail evidence that further illustrates the extent to which White House officials were warned of the risky nature of government’s investment in Solyndra, though those warnings ultimately went unheeded:

WASHINGTON—White House officials dismissed concerns about Solyndra LLC ahead of President Barack Obama’s May 2010 visit to the failed solar-panel maker, despite acknowledging that the company and other clean-energy ventures could go “belly-up” by the 2012 election, according to emails released by Democratic lawmakers…

“I am increasingly worried that this visit could prove embarrassing to the Administration in the not too distant future, given 1) what we just heard today from DOE that Solyndra is delaying their IPO at least until the end of the year, and 2) what the auditors said about Solyndra making it through the year absent new financing,” warned an email from one OMB staffer to another.

An OMB staffer also wrote: “Hope doesn’t default before” Mr. Obama’s May 26 visit.

Two days before Mr. Obama’s tour of Solyndra, Steve Westly, a California venture capitalist, emailed Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, saying the company was risky for Mr. Obama and visiting it could “haunt him in the next 18 months if Solyndra hits the wall, files for bankruptcy, etc.”

Ms. Jarrett emailed Ron Klain, then chief of staff to Vice President Joseph Biden, who acknowledged “some risk factors here—but that’s true of any innovative company that POTUS [president of the United States] would visit. It looks like it is OK to me, but if you feel otherwise, let me know.” Mr. Klain then told Ms. Jarrett: “The reality is that if POTUS visited 10 such places over the next 10 months, probably a few will be belly-up by election day 2012—but that to me is the reality of saying that we want to help promote cutting edge, new economy industries.”

More here.

UPDATE: A reader in California writes in response the the article’s description of Steve Westly as “a California venture capitalist”:

What an incomplete description. This guy was the Controller of CA for a few years in the mid-2000s and a huge Dem fundraiser. He was the CA Co-Chair for Obama in 2008 and lost the 2006 Dem Gubernatorial Primary to Phil Angelides by 4 points.

But yeah, let’s call him “a California venture capitalist.”

Andrew StilesAndrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...