From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Obama administration restructured a half-billion dollar federal loan to a troubled solar energy company in such a way that private investors — including a fundraiser for President Barack Obama — moved ahead of taxpayers for repayment in case of a default, government records show.
Administration officials defended the loan restructuring, saying that without an infusion of cash earlier this year, solar panel maker Solyndra Inc. would likely have faced immediate bankruptcy, putting more than 1,000 people out of work.
Even with the federal help, Solyndra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month and laid off its 1,100 employees.
The Fremont, Calif.-based company was the first renewable-energy company to receive a loan guarantee under a stimulus-law program to encourage green energy and was frequently touted by the Obama administration as a model. Obama visited the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters last year, and Vice President Joe Biden spoke by satellite at its groundbreaking.
Since then, the implosion of the company and revelations that the administration hurried Office of Management and Budget officials to finish their review of the loan in time for the September 2009 groundbreaking has become an embarrassment for Obama as he sells his new job-creation program around the country.
An Associated Press review of regulatory filings shows that Solyndra was hemorrhaging hundreds of millions of dollars for years before the Obama administration signed off on the original $535 million loan guarantee in September 2009. The company eventually got $528 million.
Given the company’s shaky financial condition, Republican lawmakers say the decision to restructure the loan raises questions about whether the administration protected political supporters at taxpayers’ expense.
“You should have protected the taxpayers and made some forceful actions here after this analysis,” Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., told a top Energy Department official this week. “Because you should have seen the problems. And you should have said, ‘Taxpayers need to be protected and this has got to stop.’ “
In other news, another Obama fundraiser has been linked to the loan to Solyndra.
Steve Spinner, who helped monitor the Energy Department’s issuance of $25 billion in government loan guarantees to renewable energy projects, was one of Obama’s top fundraisers in 2008 and is raising money for the president’s 2012 reelection campaign.
Spinner did not have any role in the selection of applicants for the loan program and, in fact, was recused from the decision to grant a $535-million loan guarantee to Solyndra Inc. because his wife’s law firm represented the company, administration officials said Friday.
But Spinner’s role as a top official in the Energy Department program, which had not been previously revealed, is likely to spur new inquiries into whether political influence played a role in the handling of the “green” energy fund. Solyndra faces a congressional probe, a criminal investigation and separate internal inquiries at the Energy and Treasury departments.
“This will fuel more questions, and now you’ve got real people involved at the inspector-general level who will be turning over chairs and cabinets, asking questions,” said Stanley Brand, a criminal defense and ethics lawyer in Washington who has served as general counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives.
[...]Spinner, who raised at least $500,000 for Obama in 2008, is leading efforts to raise money from the technology industry for the president’s reelection campaign. He did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
Last week, he invited Obama fundraisers who were in Chicago for a national finance committee meeting to the launch of the Technology for Obama fundraising program. In July, the Obama campaign credited Spinner with raising between $200,000 and $500,000 so far this year.
Spinner was a Silicon Valley investor who founded a sports and wellness company before he joined the administration in April 2009 after serving on Obama’s transition team. He was named an advisor to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and was charged with helping oversee a loan guarantee program authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the economic stimulus program.
[...]During his tenure, the program approved 20 loan guarantees totaling $25 billion for energy storage, wind power and solar generation, according to Spinner’s resume on LinkedIn. Among them was final approval for Solyndra, which planned to manufacture thin solar modules for flat rooftops.
So who benefited from the loan restructuring? More Obama fundraisers:
The largest investments in Solyndra were funds operated on behalf of the family foundation of billionaire George Kaiser, another major fundraiser for Obama in 2008. Kaiser has denied personally investing in the solar energy company or talking to White House officials about the loan.
I can hardly wait for this story to unfold. Maybe the mainstream media will start covering the Gunwalker story soon, too. That scandal has been out there for months.