E-mails released this week by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee point to significant political influence behind the loans made by the Department of Energy to companies like Solyndra:
The new emails contradict claims by Obama and others in his administration that all decisions on the $20 billion DOE clean energy loans were made by career executives in the department.
Most recently, Obama told a Denver television news interviewer on Oct. 26, 2012, that the loan decisions are “decisions, by the way, that are made by the Department of Energy, they have nothing to do with politics.”
Energy Secretary Stephen Chu told the oversight panel in March this year that “we looked at the loans on their own merits.” Previously during a November 2011 hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chu said he was “aware of no communication from the White House to the Department of Energy saying to make a loan or to restructure.”
And yet this is clearly false:
But an Oct. 30, 2010, email from Jim McCrea, a credit advisor to the energy loan program, to Jonathan Silver, the program’s executive director, described his worries about pressure from the White House to use a “fast-track process” to approve loans.
“I am growing increasingly worried about a fast track process imposed on us at the POTUS [President of the United States] level based on this chaotic process that we are undergoing … by designing the fast track process and having it approved at the POTUS level (which is an absolute waste of his time!) it legitimizes every element and it becomes embedded like the 55% recovery rate which also was imposed by POTUS,” McCrea said.
In another email made public today by the House panel, Silver instructed McCrea to tell a Treasury Department official of White House support for DOE help to Abound Solar.
You can read the e-mails here.
This is yet another reason why these programs aren’t a good idea. Normal banks loan out money and are subject to profits and losses, requiring them to make good decisions or else they might go bankrupt. The government is in no such place, and thus can lend money out to friends or to help re-elect Senator Harry Reid.