- Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in case vs. ‘American Sniper’ author Chris Kyle
- Government OKs Arab-owned company to operate U.S. cargo port
- Defense lawyer: McDonnell’s wife had ‘crush’ on CEO
- Chinese hackers stole ‘huge quantities’ of sensitive data on Israel’s Iron Dome
- House unveils bill to speed deportations of illegal immigrant children
- Californians protest middle school for hiring white man to teach cultural studies
- Killer’s sentencing overturned because mother couldn’t find seat in courtroom
- Hillary: ‘Dead broke’ comment was ‘inartful,’ but insists it was ‘accurate’
- Fla. mom arrested for allowing 7-year-old son to walk to park alone
EDITORIAL: Playing favorites with Solyndra bet
Suspicions mount about Energy Department’s gift to Obama pals
Question of the Day
Gambling is a risky proposition - but not when playing with loaded dice. That’s what Solyndra’s private investors were handed when the Energy Department guaranteed they’d have first dibs on compensation if the firm went belly up. This unfairly shifted the peril of investing in an uneconomical solar-panel scheme onto the backs of taxpayers. We’re the ones stuck with the $535 million bill.
Congress is examining how this sweetheart deal went through. When Solyndra’s bottom line started looking dodgy earlier this year, Energy restructured the loan so private investors, including Oklahoma billionaire and Obama fundraiser George Kaiser, would be first in line to get their money when it defaulted, which occurred when the company declared bankruptcy on Aug. 31.
On Friday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight and investigations panel released documents in which Treasury Department officials expressed the belief that by giving priority to private investors, the department had run afoul of a 2005 law, the Energy Policy Act. According to Energy Department regulations, government loans “shall be subject to the condition that the obligation is not subordinate to other financing.” However, Susan Richardson, chief counsel for the department’s loan program, drew a distinction in a Feb. 15 memo between issuing the Solyndra loan and restructuring it. Since the company’s loan was “restructured,” she argued, the ban on subordination didn’t apply, allowing private investors to jump to the head of the line.
Officials at the Office of Management and Budget cast doubt on this overly convenient interpretation of the difference between a new loan and a restructured loan. “There are some questions at the staff level about how DOE is going about the restructuring for Solyndra. … I think they have stretched this definition beyond its limits,” said one redacted email from Dec. 15, 2010, in which the writer’s name had been blacked out. The subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Cliff Stearns, Florida Republican, opined in September that he believed the favoritism amounted to an “illegal act.”
The clear intent of the law is to place the interests of the public taxpayer first. Yet, the department used word games to turn the rule on its head so that it could prop up a manufacturer of the favorite fashion accessory for the industrial left: solar panels. Instead of taking the rapidly unfolding scandal seriously, Energy officials rammed through an additional $4.7 billion in last-minute loans to four additional solar projects on Sept. 30, the last day of the loan program. “If we want to be a player in the global clean-energy race, we must continue to invest in innovative technologies that enable commercial-scale deployment of clean, renewable power like solar,” wrote Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a statement accompanying the announcement. In other words, after losing our shirt on one scam, we’re doubling down on four more.
That’s the sort of Washington behavior that has left 87 percent of Americans dissatisfied with the country’s direction, according to a recent Gallup poll. The energy secretary’s stiff-necked refusal to acknowledge fault prompted Mr. Stearns to seek Mr. Chu’s appearance before the subcommittee to tell what he knows about the Solyndra deal. If President Obama and his cronies want to gamble, they ought to do it with their own money.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Time for some policy 'pars' from golfer-in-chief
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Texas law is making women safer
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Redskins partnership is a win-win
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: No taxpayer funds for illegals
- EDITORIAL: The two faces of Mark Warner
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Get Breaking Alerts
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- GOP Senate candidate: Obama needs to visit Central America
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Kerry's credibility questioned as fighting in Gaza rages
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in defamation case
- Rush Limbaugh: 'There is no journalism anymore'
- California's Jerry Brown cites God, 'religious call' to embrace illegals