Newly uncovered emails show the White House closely monitored and tried to rush Energy Department deliberations over whether to make a $535 million taxpayer-backed loan to Solyndra, a politically-connected solar energy firm that went bankrupt and now is the focus of a criminal investigation.
The company’s solar panel factory was heralded as a centerpiece of the president’s stimulus-backed green energy plan – billed as a way to jumpstart a promising new industry while creating jobs. The internal emails, excerpts of which were obtained by iWatch News and ABC News, show the Obama administration keenly monitored progress of the loan, even as analysts voiced serious concerns about the risk involved.
With Obama about to take a trip where he might be able to announce the loan in March 2009, top White House officials were pressing for a quick answer.
“If you guys think this is a bad idea, I need to unwind the WW [West Wing] QUICKLY,” wrote Ronald A. Klain, then chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, in an email sent March 7, 2009.
Three days later, an analyst at the Office of Management and Budget cautioned against moving too quickly. “This deal is NOT ready for prime time,” the analyst wrote in a March 10, 2009 email.
Only 10 days later, the Energy Department formally announced its commitment to guarantee the loan, which the administration had fast-tracked as the first green energy project backed by stimulus dollars.