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Grand jury begins probe of Solyndra
Attorneys’ billing shows preparation
The first mention of a grand jury in the billing records came on Oct. 9, when Mr. Bornstein reported nearly an hour’s worth of work that included reviewing “grand jury subpoena.” The next day, another attorney worked on drafting correspondence to “AUSA regarding grand jury subpoena.” Records also refer to “AUSA’s expedited request for materials.”
The law firm’s billing records shed little light on the nature of the investigation, but it’s clear federal authorities are interested in contracting issues.
In October, Benjamin Schwartz, a vice president and lawyer at Solyndra, testified in a bankruptcy hearing that customer contract matters were “called out” in the FBI search warrant. During the FBI raid, he also said the federal agents had copied the company’s electronic database, and so investigators would have access to any information at Solyndra in an electronic format.
Mr. Schwartz’s testimony came after the U.S. Office of the Trustee, an arm of the Justice Department, accused Solyndra of refusing to discuss the company’s contracts in a bid to have a trustee take over the failed company. A judge denied the request.
Contracts also surface in the K&L billing records.
On Oct. 13, Mr. Bornstein participated in a conference call with “B. Schwartz regarding customer contract,” while another attorney reported participating in a conference “regarding customer contract” that same day, records show.
The attorneys’ hourly bills make apparent reference to the ongoing investigation into Solyndra by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. K&L Gates attorneys reported reviewing congressional testimony and discussing “congressional issues,” billing records show.
The committee has been investigating Solyndra since early this year. So far, committee hearings have exposed sharp partisan divides on Solyndra. Republicans have pushed to learn whether politics played any role in the award of federal loans to the company or in the failed efforts to keep the company afloat. Democrats have said the loans were given based on the merits.
Either way, elected officials from both parties have questioned whether Solyndra executives misled Congress when assuring key lawmakers that the company’s prospects were good just weeks before going bankrupt.
The company remains a political headache for the Obama administration. Solyndra was awarded more than a half-billion dollars in loan guarantees from the Department of Energy in 2009.
The bankrupt company’s troubles have been magnified by the public backing it won from the top reaches of government, including a tour of the company last year by President Obama and remarks by Vice President Joseph R. Biden and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at a 2009 ceremony announcing the federal loan guarantees.
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