House Republicans accused the White House Thursday of blocking the release of documents on the failed half-billion loan to solar panel maker Solyndra LLC, the California company once hailed as a darling of the stimulus program.
Now a giant political headache for the Obama administration, Solyndra’s collapse remains the subject of a months-long investigation by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
In a letter to White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, Republican committee leaders said she was in violation of a congressional subpoena seeking documents on Solyndra.
The letter, signed by Rep. Fred Upton, Michigan Republican and chairman of the committee, and Rep. Cliff Stearns, Florida Republican and chairman of the committee’s investigations panel, said Ms. Ruemmler “cherry picked” documents for production.
The lawmakers also sent a letter to Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu, citing concern that DOE, as well, hadn’t produced all of its communications and documents on Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy in September.
For instance, the lawmakers said a June 27 email obtained by the committee shows that Mr. Chu was briefed that day by his staff in advance of a meeting with President Obama and Solyndra was listed among the “likely topics.”
“Yet, no briefing materials or other documents relating to your meeting with the President have been produced or otherwise made available to the Committee,” the lawmakers wrote.
Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman, said the administration isn’t hiding anything.
“White House counsel is reviewing today’s letter but we are entering month ten of this investigation and everything disclosed in the 185,000 pages of documents, nine committee staff briefings, five Congressional hearings, emails from Solyndra investors, and Committee interview with George Kaiser, affirms what we said on day one: this was a merit based decision made by the Department of Energy,” Mr. Schultz said in an email.
“We only wish that some of the Committee’s zeal to investigate could be replicated in efforts to grow the economy,” he said. “Since May, the House Commerce Committee has held five different hearings on Solyndra, and zero on legislation that would directly produce jobs.”
Mr. Kaiser’s foundation was a major investor in Solyndra. He was also a fundraiser for Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign. The House panel has been investigating whether Mr. Kaiser’s political ties influenced the government’s handling of the Solyndra loans.
Meanwhile, Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, filed a federal lawsuit against the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and DOE seeking Solyndra records.
The lawsuit said OMB acknowledged getting a Freedom of Information Act request from the group but hasn’t produced any records, while the DOE provided only a partial response.
• Jim McElhatton can be reached at email@example.com.
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