House Republicans came out swinging against the top executives of the failed solar panel maker Solyndra on Friday for not being forthright about their company’s dire financial situation when they were on the Hill in July, but the Department of Energy says that they themselves were pretty selective about the information they’ve been doling out to the media about the Obama administration’s correspondence over the conditions under which the DOE made its loan guarantee.
House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce oversight and investigations subcommittee have been subpoenaing records from the White House’ Office of Management and Budget, and have, it seems, been selectively leaking them to the media.
For example on September 14th, the non-profit and non-partisan group the Center for Public Integrity published a story with the headline: “Obama administration agreed to Solyndra loan days after insiders foresaw firm’s failure,” based on “excerpts” of OMB and DOE e-mails that it had obtained from the House Energy & Commerce’s Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee.
The story quoted a DOE official predicting in an e-mail that Solyndra would run out of cash by September 2011, and noted that it was one red flag out of many that the White House should have paid attention to before making the loan guarantee.
But on Friday, DOE spokesman Damien LaVera sent out a note to reporters saying that the e-mail quote had been:
… selectively pulled from an Aug. 20, 2009 email to make it look like Solyndra would run out of cash by Sept. 2011.
To be clear, the analysis addressed in that email did not refer to Solyndra’s corporate cash flow, but rather the cash flow for a subsidiary of Solyndra - the “Fab 2 Project Company.” The cash flow models never said that Solyndra (the parent company) would run short of cash in September 2011. The email noted that the subsidiary was projected to have relatively low levels of cash in one particular month, and that the parent company would need to make up any potential shortfall.
“It’s also important to note what the projections actually said. While the model showed the project would have a relatively small amount of cash in September 2011, it also shows the project having millions of dollars in cash the next month, and multiples of that by the end of January of 2012.
It’s hard to look at the totality of this analysis and conclude, as some have implied, that the projections prove that the company would go under. In fact, the analysis projected that the project would have tens of millions of dollars in cash by the end of January of 2012.
Finally, it is important to note that this was not the final analysis. One week later, with additional information provided (including making clear that the parent company would be required to make up any cash flow shortfall at the subsidiary), the same DOE employee signed off on the cash-flow projection to send it to OMB.”
Perhaps a lot of detail, but on Friday some of the House lawmakers brought that September 2011 projection up when they were grilling Solyndra CEO and President Brian Harrison and Chief Financial Officer W.G. Stover.
The two executives had pleaded the Fifth because they are under a criminal investigation by the FBI and the DOE’s Inspector General, and so were not able to respond to the questions and comments by committee members.