On a day when Solyndra executives pled the fifth over a dozen times, House Energy Oversight Subcommittee chairman Cliff Stearns
expressed confidence that the truth will ultimately surface regarding why a half-billion dollar loan was made to a bankrupt solar-panel firm that had strong political connections to the Obama White House.
Stearns added he believes “…it’s going to come out to the detriment of the White House.”
Getting to the bottom of Solyndra has been a tough slog for Republicans on Stearns’ oversight committee. First, they had to subpoena the Energy Department after their information requests were ignored. Democrats opposed that move.
The documents they are now receiving from the Energy Department have been heavily redacted, according to Stearns.
On Friday, Solyndra executives visiting Capitol Hill refused to answer questions. Their intransigence comes in the larger context of an FBI probe. The FBI raided the company’s California headquarters about a week after it shut its doors.
The House probe is especially embarrassing to the Obama administration because the president visited Solyndra and held it up as a model for the stimulus-funded green jobs that he said would help trigger a U.S. economic recovery. When the company closed its doors, over 1,100 workers lost their jobs.
E-mails indicate that OMB analysts felt pressured to rush through the approval of some $535 million in Solyndra loan guarantees. They warned that the firm had yet to demonstrate a viable business model, and predicted it would burn through its cash in September 2011. That prediction turned out to be accurate.
Members of Stearns’ committee, including Democrats, were especially incensed that Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison had assured the panel everything was hunky-dory not long before the company went belly up.
“He came up to the Hill and he met with me and others, and he said: ‘We’re making excellent progress, we’re meeting all our cost and performance milestones,” Stearns tells Newsmax. “And I even think he said the revenues they projected would be nearly double for 2011.
“Meanwhile, they’re hemorrhaging all their cash. So obviously this Mr. Harrison was not telling the truth.”
Democrats had expressed an interest in asking some tough questions of their own. Yet they bristled at the political optics Friday, as Republicans repeatedly asking questions that the executives refused to answer.
“I agreed to the format,” protested ranking Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., according to FoxNews.com. “That doesn’t mean I agreed to badgering the witnesses.”
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., went so far as to complain the myriad questions could be grounds for prosecutorial misconduct.
“We’re an investigative body, not a prosecutorial body,” Stearns replies. “The idea is to let the American people hear all the questions we have, that we can’t answer.
“You can only do that if you have them in front of you, asking the questions. And I thought it was a sober, serious hearing, and I felt nobody was badgering.”
Stearns says the committee will be receiving testimony from Energy Secretary Steven Chu. And eventually, he tells Newsmax, the truth will come out.
“I really can’t tell you how long, or how successful we’ll be,” Stearns says. “But I think if we continue like we’ve been doing, which is systematically thorough, it’s eventually all going to come out.
“And I think it’s going to come out to the detriment of the White House, because surely they knew, as well as the Department of Energy, that this was a bad deal for the taxpayers.”
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