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Solyndra payday for former Massachusetts governor

- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 5, 2012

Former Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld will be paid more than $20,000 in legal fees working for bankrupt Solyndra LLC — mostly in connection with congressional hearings during which company executives refused to answer questions.

A fee application filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware by an attorney for Solyndra seeks more than $41,000 for the services of Mr. Weld and two of his colleagues at the McDermott Will & Emery law firm.

The firm was hired as special counsel during Solyndra's bankruptcy. Solyndra company went bankrupt in September, two years after winning a $535 million loan guarantee package.

In the fee application, Solyndra said Mr. Weld and two other lawyers worked more than 55 hours "in connection with U.S. Congress' hearings." Mr. Weld is a former two term Republican governor who backed President Obama's 2008 campaign. He's now in private practice.

Mr. Weld's colleagues in the case were Stephen M. Ryan, a registered lobbyist, former Senate committee general counsel and head of McDermott Will & Emery government-affairs practice, who is paid $775 per hour; and David Ransom, a regulatory and government affairs lawyer who was communications director to Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, who receives $360 per hour.

Mr. Weld, who charged $835 per hour, worked 26.6 hours, almost as many hours as Mr. Ryan and Mr. Ransom combined, records show.

Solyndra bankruptcy attorneys said the fees were "fair and reasonable" given the complexity of the case, the nature of the work and costs of comparable services. The documents include invoices showing several contacts between Mr. Weld, other lawyers and Solyndra officials discussing "strategy."

On Sept. 14, Mr. Weld reported working five hours, three of which were spent attending a congressional hearing. He also reported reviewing a timeline provided by the company and other file materials and press accounts.

The next day, Mr. Weld worked more than three hours reviewing affidavit and court filings, news clips and various releases by the House panel, according to court filings.

There was also a flurry of legal work in the days before two top Solyndra executives, former Chief Executive Officer Brian Harrison and W.G. Stover, the chief financial officer — invoked their Fifth Amendment rights before Congress and refused to testify.

The day before the hearing, Mr. Weld reported working on memos and telephone calls to and from the attorneys representing both of the top Solyndra executives. So did Mr. Ryan, though he also listed emails and calls with reporters as well as work on a draft statement for the press.

A spokesman for McDermott Will & Emery previously has told The Washington Times that the firm had been engaged as legal counsel for Solyndra, but that it was not lobbying for the company. The fees still must be cleared through the bankruptcy court.

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