Congress subpoenas Obama over Solyndra

AFP Photo / Jewel Samad
The White House is outraged today and says a request from Congress to hand-over emails pertaining to the massive loan the Obama administration okayed for Solyndra shortly before the solar panel plant went bankrupt is unprecedented.

A Thursday morning vote from a House of Representatives panel will send a subpoena to Pennsylvania Avenue as lawmakers consider the circumstances around the $535 million loan guarantee that the White House offered to Solyndra despite Republicans urging against it. President Obama made a personal appearance at the Fremont, California Solyndra factory and touted the company for its production. Now Congress wants to see documents and emails from Obama — even ones from his personal Blackberry — that might unearth ties between his administration and the deal went sour.

Upon announcing their closure in September, Solyndra officials said that the help extended from the White House wasn’t enough to keep them in business.

“Solyndra could not achieve full-scale operations rapidly enough to compete in the near term with the resources of larger foreign manufacturers,” Solyndra officials said in a statement back in early September. Republicans were weary of the loan that Obama had extended to Solyndra, with Representatives Fred Upton from Michigan and Cliff Stearns of Florida calling it at the time “the latest casualty of the Obama administration’s failed stimulus.” Upton, also chairman of the full House Energy and Commerce committee, says today’smove is Congress’ “last resort.”

Eric Schultz, White House spokesperson, responded that the vote today was “unprecedented and unwarranted” but said that so far the president has provided over 85,000 pages of documentations with more forthcoming.

Some Republican lawmakers believe that Solyndra investors were also donors to the Obama campaign and could have coerced the president into agreeing to the loan.

Schultz insists that isn’t the case, however, and told reporters today, "All of the materials that have been disclosed affirm what we said on day one: this was a merit-based decision made by the Department of Energy.”

Before filing for bankruptcy, Solyndra says they used all but $8 million of the $535 million offered by the DoE. The company is also indebted to private investors to the tune of nearly $70 million additionally.

With the House of Representatives under Republican control, it comes as no surprise that the GOP agreed to send a subpoena to Obama as they attempt to discredit his administration as the Solyndra scandal continues to escalate two months after they first acknowledged going under. Before officially going bankrupt, their California factory also suffered an early-morning raid by the FBI.

“It was quite a shock," Solyndra spokesman Dave Miller told Silicon Valley’s Mercury News after the early September raid. "When I got here at 7 a.m. they were already here."

Solyndra was the third American solar panel manufacturer to call it quits this year.