Even before President Obama’s visit last year to Solyndra, the now-bankrupt solar equipment manufacturer, White House officials expressed concern, saying they were worried that Solyndra might soon collapse, newly disclosed e-mails provided to Congressional investigators show.
“I am increasingly worried that this visit could prove embarrassing to the administration in the not too distant future,” one official at the Office of Management and Budget wrote, according to a memo prepared Monday by House Democrats describing the e-mails provided by the White House and the Department of Energy.
A seven-page report based on the new documents reveals that top White House officials recognized early that the company faced potentially crippling business problems and that the government’s generous investment could backfire on the Obama administration. And they knew this before the president paid the company a visit in May 2010.
The new documents show a private investor in Solyndra questioning why the federal government, back in September 2009, agreed to put up so much money — $535 million — to help the company expand given the questions about its financial future.
“One of our solar companies with revenues of less than $100 million (and not yet profitable) received a government loan of $580 million,” the investor, Brad Jones, an executive at Redpoint Ventures, wrote in December 2009 to Lawrence H. Summers, then the president’s chief economic advisor, referring to Solyndra. “While that is good for us, I can’t imagine it’s a good way for the government to use taxpayer money.”
The investment, Mr. Jones said, demonstrated broad problems with the government loan program.
E-Mails Reveal Early White House Worries Over Solyndra - NYTimes.com“The allocation of spending to clean energy is haphazard; the government is just not well equipped to decide which companies should get the money and how much,” Mr. Jones wrote.