A congressional subcommittee investigating a $535 million loan guarantee to a politically-connected California solar panel maker sought answers Friday from the Office of Management and Budget—but the sole witness didn’t show up.
The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations has pressed for internal documents from OMB that could shed light on the loan guarantee for Solyndra Inc. The guarantee, the first issued by the Obama administration, was announced with fanfare in March 2009. Yet questions surfaced as the California firm laid off workers and cancelled a planned initial public offering after it had secured the government’s backing.
Solyndra’s prime financial backers include Obama bundler George Kaiser, an Oklahoma oil billionaire. iWatch News and ABC reported in May the Obama administration bypassed steps meant to protect taxpayers as it hurried to approve the energy loan guarantee.
Stearns says OMB has refused to turn over internal emails written as the government weighed whether to grant the financial support to a company then just four years old. Jeffrey Zients, OMB’s deputy director, was asked to testify at Friday’s hearing.
Zients wrote to the committee that his schedule precluded his appearance, and Democrats contended the hearing was little more than political theater.
OMB’s absence could signal increased tensions between the Obama administration and the Republican House, which is aggressively investigating the stimulus-funded loan guarantee to Solyndra.
Subcommittee Chair Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., said that if the budget office refuses to comply in the coming weeks, he might seek a subpoena to force disclosure.