The Corner

WH Pressured OMB on Solyndra Decision

The Washington Post uncovers more White House e-mails regarding the Solyndra loan scandal, and it’s not pretty:

The Obama White House tried to rush federal reviewers for a decision on a nearly half-billion-dollar loan to the solar panel manufacturer Solyndra so Vice President Biden could announce the approval at a September 2009 groundbreaking for the company’s new factory, newly obtained e-mails show…

The August 2009 e-mails, released toThe Washington Post, show White House officials repeatedly asking OMB reviewers when they would be able to decide on the federal loan and noting a looming press event at which they planned to announce the deal. In response, OMB officials expressed concern that they were being rushed to approve the company’s project without adequate time to assess the risk to taxpayers, according to the e-mails, which were provided by Republican congressional investigators…

So clearly, as far as the Obama administration was concerned, the Solyndra loan was a done deal, and didn’t much care for the opinions of the budget geeks at OMB. They were far too preoccupied with their plans to “spike the football,” so to speak, by sending Joe Biden out to California to declare that Solyndra was “exactly was the Recovery Act is all about.” Indeed, the White House appears to have pressured OMB to approve the loan so as not to jeopardize a “looming press event.” (That sentence pretty well captures the Obama presidency, no?). OMB, on the other hand, was none too pleased:

“We have ended up with a situation of having to do rushed approvals on a couple of occasions (and we are worried about Solyndra at the end of the week),” one official wrote. That August 31, 2009, message, written by a senior OMB staffer and sent to Terrell P. McSweeny, Biden’s domestic policy adviser, concluded, “We would prefer to have sufficient time to do our due diligence reviews.”

The White House pressure may have had a “tangible impact” on OMB’s risk assessment of the loan, the congressional investigators concluded…

In one e-mail, an assistant to Rahm Emanuel, then White House chief of staff, wrote on Aug. 31, 2009, to OMB about the upcoming Biden announcement on Solyndra and asked whether “there is anything we can help speed along on OMB side.”

An OMB staff member responded: “I would prefer that this announcement be postponed. . . . This is the first loan guarantee and we should have full review with all hands on deck to make sure we get it right.”

These revelations fly in the face of what White House officials have been saying over the past couple of weeks. They have repeatedly insisted that the White House did not intervene in the Solyndra loan process. In response, a White House spokesman told the Post  “there was interest in when a decision would be made because of its impact on whether an event involving the vice president could be scheduled for a particular date or not,” but reiterated that the loan decision was “merit-based.”

Read the whole thing here. This ought to make for a colorful hearing tomorrow. Bottom line: this is full blown scandal, and it’s not going away any time soon.

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 ...


The Latest