Solyndra Executives Plead The Fifth In Deepening Scandal

In another bad turn for the White House, Solyndra executives repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment on the company’s financial collapse and its receipt of $535 million federal loan guarantee. President Barack Obama has been criticized for ignoring warnings that the company was poorly structured and in danger of failing before highlighting the company as an example of his program of stimulus funds.


Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison told Energy and Commerce oversight sbucommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) “While I hope to have an opportunity to assist this committee in the future, on the advice of my attorney, I must respectfully decline to answer any questions.”

This is an example, in my view, of exceptionally poor judgment on the part of the White House in selecting this company. While the Bush Administration started this process, White House staff members ignored warnings in the rush to give out stimulus funds and use the company as a back drop.

While the New York Times found no evidence of political favoritism for major donors connected with the company, it did find extensive lobbying of White House officials and a type of willful blindness as the White House choreographed every detail of the photo op planned with the President.

The lobbyists included most significantly Michael Sheehy, a former top aide to Representative and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Sheehy is yet another former government official who has become wealthy in using prior contacts as a lobbyist. In this case, the company went to the top of the list for massive federal support.

The scandal has now picked up possible criminal overtones and the pleading of the fifth by these executives creates more than bad optics for the White House.

Source: Politco

18 thoughts on “Solyndra Executives Plead The Fifth In Deepening Scandal”

  1. anon:

    dont hold your breath either while waiting for that answer and a rash of others this loan raises.

    Not least among them is whether this Kaiser fellow was receiving some form of payoff for being an Obama fund raiser.

    2 big scandals in the Obama Administration and the MSM doesnt seem the least bit interested. But goddam if they didnt ferret out Rick Perry’s report card and that picture of Michele Bachmann eating a Corn Dog.

    If Fast and Furious had been done by a republican president and people had died the press would have been out for blood and had Solyndra been financed by a republican doner?

  2. http://www.salon.com/2011/10/14/treasury_officials_never_saw_a_loan_like_solyndra_2/

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Two senior Treasury officials say they had never seen a loan restructuring similar to an Energy Department loan to a failed solar panel maker.

    The half-billion dollar loan to Solyndra Inc. was restructured so that private investors moved ahead of taxpayers for repayment on part of the loan in case of a default.

    Asked by Republican members of Congress if they had seen that occur in a federal loan, Treasury officials Gary Grippo and Gary Burner said no.

    Grippo is a deputy assistant treasury secretary and Burner is chief financial officer at the Federal Financing Bank, which made a $528 million loan to Solyndra in 2009.

    The two men stopped short of declaring the loan restructuring illegal, as Republican allege.

    I still have yet to see any answer regarding whether or not the USA now owns or has claims on the underlying super-advanced Solyndra patents, processes, technology, etc.

  3. Assuming there’s some fire attached to the smoke in this case, it certainly deserves scrutiny and appropriate punishment for those involved.

    And yet I could only stare with my mouth open as the representatives got all outraged over a half billion dollar loss to tax payers. Can someone point me to the hearing when the same people were going nuts over the dozens of culpable Wall Street rat-weasels who caused a global economic catastrophe? Half a billion looks like shoplifting in comparison.

  4. “The scandal has now picked up possible criminal overtones and the pleading of the fifth by these executives creates more than bad optics for the White House. ”

    Isn’t “looking bad” the only thing that pleading the fifth actually does? Even then, isn’t the law supposed to ignore the fact that it looks bad?

  5. Friday, Sep 23, 2011 13:20 ET

    How The World Works
    Solyndra’s China syndrome

    While Republicans seize upon a solar power fiasco to attack green energy, the Chinese get even more ambitious

    by Andrew Leonard

    http://www.salon.com/news/env/energy/index.html?story=/tech/htww/2011/09/23/china_and_solyndra

    Excerpts:

    While the New York Times reports today that there is no evidence yet of direct political favoritism, it probably wasn’t a good idea for Solyndra executives to be telling Congress that the company was doing fine just five weeks before declaring bankruptcy.

    I would never want to be a citizen of a one-party dominated repressive state like China, but the U.S. is now so far at the other end of the spectrum of government efficacy that is downright embarrassing. As I write these words, Republicans and Democrats are at loggerheads — with another government shutdown possibly looming — because Republicans want to offset the cost of disaster relief by cutting funding for green energy initiatives. It is a position that manages to simultaneously be transparently political and incredibly dumb. And it’s business as usual for the U.S. Congress. (end of excerpts)

  6. We are losing out to the Germans and China in the solar industry. Now Russia is going to legalize industrial hemp and take over that market in green technology.

    How long does our nation have to sit on the sidelines?

  7. After investing $535,000 why didn’t the government take over this company as their design of tubular solar receptors is a great one, and then have them installed on all government buildings with flat roofs..?

    The tubular design allows the solar “panels” to collect sunlight for a maximum amount of time as the sun moves overhead…from many different angles…

    Remember it took Edison hundreds of tries before he found the filament that allowed the incandescent light bulb, what worked initially was a human hair..!

    China is kicking our butts in the solar panel field putting 20x’s what we are into it…!

    Just another example of America being “stuck on stupid..1”

  8. I don’t know what the answer is, I do know that ever since my childhood in the **ties (grrr), Congressional hearings have been mocked and criticized for being scripted, political, dog and pony shows.

    And yet, they have to be valuable, right? Right?

  9. “Seriously lawyers, what advice would you give to clients you felt were completely innocent of the accusations that would permit them to testify in front of Congress regarding how they ran their business?”

    Anon,

    I agree with you. To me most Congressional Hearings have become “dog and pony shows”, held to gain publicity points and/or political points. As for Committee Hearings effectiveness we can only look back to the example of Tobacco CEO’s committing proven outright perjury at Congressional hearings with no consequence or personal penalty to them.

  10. Damn it, when this thread had no comments in it, I was struggling to remember the perfect quotes expressing the irony in this case. Okay, here they are:

    “Sunshine is the best disinfectant — Louis Brandeis, Justice of the Supreme Court”

    “On the advice of my attorney, I must respectfully decline to answer any questions — Brian Harrison, CEO Solyndra, manufacturer of Solar Cells”

    “Well the best defense is a good offense, you know who said that? Mel, the cook on “Alice”.”

  11. “but if the failure of Solyndra is for reasons that fall within the protective umbrella of the Fifth Amendment, it’s a bad sign.”

    I agree that it certainly looks like a bad sign, but hell maybe it’s not. Going back to Oliver North (where my memory of this starts), there is a fundamental disconnect between my guaranteed civil liberties, testifying in front of Congress, and the inevitable (and justifiable) desire to prosecute.

    As AY says, they followed counsels advice, and which of you lawyers in here, regardless of your belief in your client’s innocence would tell them to testify?

    Seriously lawyers, what advice would you give to clients you felt were completely innocent of the accusations that would permit them to testify in front of Congress regarding how they ran their business?

  12. Businesses fail routinely and for many reasons, but if the failure of Solyndra is for reasons that fall within the protective umbrella of the Fifth Amendment, it’s a bad sign.

  13. It is not wrong to take the 5th or not take the witness stand in one’s own defense of course.

    It is not wise to drink a 5th, however, before applying for a fed loan.

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