The Corner

FBI Investigating Solyndra

I write on the homepage today about the embarrassing (at least for President Obama and other true believers in the “green economy”) downfall of Solyndra, the California-based solar panel company that filed for bankruptcy last week, despite having received more than $500 million in federally guaranteed loans:

Speaking at the Solyndra plant in Fremont, Calif., in May 2010, President Obama expounded on the federal government’s role in the company’s success: “Less than a year ago, we were standing on what was an empty lot. But through the Recovery Act, this company received a loan to expand its operations. This new factory is the result of those loans.” That loan was for $535 million, and was guaranteed by the federal government. A year later, the factory is empty, and 1,100 workers are out of a job.

But the unfortunate saga is unlikely to end there. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that FBI agents executed search warrants at Solyndra’s plant in Fremont, Calif., this morning:

The search is part of a joint investigation involving the FBI and the Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General, said FBI spokeswoman Julianne Sohn, who declined to elaborate.

Solyndra closed its doors on Aug. 31. It did so without warning and without WARN, a state and federal law requiring advance notice of a large layoff or shutdown. The company has said it was most likely exempt from notifying its 900 full-time and 200 contract workers ahead of time under a loophole in the law, officially known as the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act.

Solyndra’s former employees are now suing the company on these grounds. So, as much as the Obama administration would like this story to fade into the background, that doesn’t seem very likely at this point.

UPDATE: A reader writes in with some interesting speculation:

As a lawyer who has done a fair amount of defense work, it strikes me as more than possible that someone tipped off Solyndra that they were under investigation and that the hammer was about to drop. Hence the quick meltdown and door-shutting. Just a hunch, but it seems likely, particularly given their connection to the administration and the fact that the Energy Department’s IG was doing the investigation.

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 ...

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