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White House dismisses Solyndra emails

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The White House is dismissing new email evidence in the Solyndra investigation as trumped-up and “cherry-picked.”

Reporters on Thursday peppered President Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney with questions about new emails, released Wednesday, that appear to show that a major donor to Mr. Obama or his associates lobbied White House officials on the federal government’s $535 million loan to the now-bankrupt energy company.

Mr. Carney would not concede that the emails were proof of any type of lobbying, or anything more than more GOP-led political witch hunts.

“I mean, what the episode in the last 24 hours shows I think reinforces the idea that this is becoming a political football in a partisan effort,” Mr. Carney said. “They cherry-picked some documents and tried to make hay out of something that, when looked in its entirety, only reinforces what we’ve said, which is that there was no political influence in the decision-making progress — process that led to the loan guarantee for Solyndra.”

“In fact, the meeting that they’re referring to, as I’m sure you’re aware, took place almost a year after the loan was approved,” he continued.

The emails in question refer to billionaire fundraiser George Kaiser, whose Kaiser Family Foundation invested heavily in Solyndra, and Mr. Kaiser’s efforts to win a second Department of Energy guarantee that the company sought but never received.

“He was supposedly lobbying — but he was supposedly lobbying for a loan that had already been approved almost a year before,” Mr. Carney said in response to a question.

Fox News’ Ed Henry would not let Mr. Carney off the hook, however. Instead, he pressed on, recalling comments Mr. Carney had previously made asserting that any meetings between Mr. Kaiser and the White House officials were about Mr. Kaiser’s charity, the family foundation.

“Then will you at least acknowledge that his — George Kaiser’s meetings here — were not just about his charity, they were about Solyndra as well?” Mr. Henry asked.

Mr. Carney wouldn’t budge, instead suggesting Mr. Henry had misquoted him. He then re-read this exact quote from back in March:

“I would point you simply to what George Kaiser himself has said, that he did not lobby or discuss — he did not lobby administration officials with regard to this while with Solyndra,” Mr. Carney said. “He was involved in a lot of charitable efforts, and it’s our understanding that, while we haven’t looked into every meeting that he might have had here, that that was the focus of his conversations, generally speaking, at the White House.”

Mr. Carney also pointed out that the emails in question are between outside Kaiser Family Foundation associates not White House officials.

“Okay, you’re talking about emails that were not sent to or from here, characterizations of meetings not made by people who were here,” he said. “What I can point you to is that George Kaiser himself, with the committee, reaffirmed, in his words, that he never lobbied this administration.”

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are citing a Feb. 27, 2010, email exchange between Kaiser associates that described enthusiasm about Solyndra among aides to Vice President Joe Biden.

“They about had an orgasm in Biden’s office when we mentioned Solyndra,” Ken Levit of the family foundation said in the e-mail to Steven Mitchell, a managing director of Argonaut Private Equity, the investment arm of Kaiser’s family foundation.

“That’s awesome! Get us a DOE loan,” Mr. Mitchell responded, referring to the Department of Energy.

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About the Author

Susan Crabtree

Susan Crabtree is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 15 years of reporting experience in Washington, D.C. Her reporting about bribery, corruption and conflict-of-interest issues on Capitol Hill has led to several FBI and ethics investigations, as well as consequences for members within their caucuses and at the ballot box. Susan can be reached at scrabtree@washingtontimes.com.

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