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Entries in Solyndra (10)

Thursday
Mar222012

Obama on Solyndra: ‘This Was Not Our Program Per Se’

Ken James/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At the nation’s largest solar energy plant Wednesday, President Obama doubled down on his commitment to government subsidies for clean energy technology and green jobs — and deflected blame for instances when those investments have failed.

“Are you doing your ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy right if that’s what we have to show for it — Solyndra?” asked Kai Ryssdal, host of Marketplace on American Public Media, in an interview with Obama.

The solar energy start-up Solyndra, which had been the poster child of Obama’s initiative, went bankrupt in 2011, putting 1,000 employees out of work. It had received more than $500 million in federal loan guarantees through a Recovery Act program. The loan process is now the subject of a congressional investigation.

“Obviously, we wish Solyndra hadn’t gone bankrupt,” Obama said. “But understand: This was not our program per se.”

“Congress — Democrats and Republicans — put together a loan guarantee program because they understood historically that when you get new industries, it’s easy to raise money for start-ups, but if you want to take them to scale, oftentimes there’s a lot of risk involved, and what the loan guarantee program was designed to do was to help start up companies get to scale,” he said.

Obama mischaracterizes congressional support for the program, however. The loan to Solyndra was not part of a program developed by both Republicans and Democrats.  Rather, it was entirely funded through the 2009 Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which did not receive any GOP votes.

Moreover, Obama’s suggestion that Republicans, on the whole, have previously supported clean-energy loan guarantee programs overstates the case, according to several independent fact-checkers.

“Do I wish that Solyndra had gone bankrupt? Absolutely not. And obviously it’s heartbreaking what happened to the workers who were there. When you look at the overall portfolio, is it right for us to make sure that we’re not just cashing in our chips and letting the Chinese or the Germans develop the technologies that we know are going to be critical in the future? I’m proud to say that we’re going to continue to support it,” Obama told Marketplace.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan272012

Another Obama-Backed Green Company Files for Bankruptcy

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The parent company of an electric car battery maker that received more than $100 million in government funding from the Obama administration has filed for bankruptcy protection, the company announced Thursday.

Alex Sorokin, the CEO for lithium-ion battery manufacturer Ener1, said the company suffered when demand for the batteries dropped as fewer Americans than expected opted for electric cars.

"This was a difficult, but necessary, decision for our company," Sorokin said in a statement on its website. "We moved aggressively to reduce costs and shift focus when the marketplace did not evolve as quickly as anticipated. Our business plan was impacted when demand for lithium-ion batteries slowed due to lower-than-expected adoption for electric passenger vehicles."

EnerDel, a subsidiary of Ener1 dedicated to making batteries for electric cars, was awarded a $118 million grant from the Energy Department in 2009 as part of President Obama's taxpayer-funded economic stimulus package and green energy push. Ener1 said that the bankruptcy filing and newly announced company restructuring would allow its subsidiaries, including EnerDel, to "continue normal operation."

The filing came exactly a year after Vice President Joe Biden visited an Ener1 manufacturing plant in Indiana where he proclaimed the company was the "start" to reshaping the way Americans drive and "the way Americans power their lives."

"A year and a half ago, this administration made a judgment. We decided it's not sufficient to create new jobs -- we have to create whole new industries," Biden told the plant workers then. "We're back in the game." But much like another Obama-backed green venture, it's now game over for Ener1.

Ener1's financial collapse prompted a comparison to the doomed solar energy company Solyndra from Rep. Cliff Sterns, R.-Fla., who has been one of President Obama's most vocal critics concerning the green energy loan guarantee initiative. Solynda received more than half a billion dollars in taxpayer money as a loan guarantee from the Energy Department in 2009, two years before it collapsed in August 2011.

Like Biden at Ener1, President Obama toured a Solyndra plant in California in May 2010 where he touted its potential -- despite the fact that the company was already troubled, critics allege.

Solyndra is now the target of a federal criminal investigation aimed at determining whether the company was awarded the massive loan thanks to undue political influence -- prompted by a major Obama campaign funds "bundler" -- despite the Solyndra's mounting trouble behind the scenes at the time.

A spokesperson for the Energy Department did not immediately return requests for comment on this report.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec142011

Solyndra in Grand Jury Crosshairs: Documents

Ken James/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A grand jury has been convened in what appears to be the next significant step of the federal criminal investigation into Solyndra, the politically-connected and now bankrupt solar firm that received a half-billion dollar loan guarantee from the government at the urging of the Obama administration, according to court documents.

The role of the grand jury was revealed in documents filed in bankruptcy court last week by K&L Gates, a law firm retained by Solyndra reportedly just weeks after the FBI raided Solyndra's California headquarters in September. The documents give a daily account of K&L Gates' employees activities in reference to Solyndra and often refer to communications concerning a, "grand jury subpoena".

The K&L Gates documents, first reported by The Washington Times, also show the attorneys had more than two dozen interactions with the U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI. The first mention of a grand jury came on Oct. 9.

The criminal investigation into the failed solar power company has become a political lightning rod as Republicans in Congress have suggested undue political influence affected the Obama administration's decision to award Solyndra a $535 million loan guarantee in 2009, despite early warning signs the company was in trouble.

When called before a Congressional committee in September, former Solyndra executives invoked their Fifth Amendment rights and declined to answer any questions about the company's sudden collapse. The next month, the company's CEO, Brian Harrison, resigned.

ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity's iWatch News first reported on questions about the choice of Solyndra for the loan in March after the Department of Energy disclosed it was being forced to restructure its loan package for the company, which was showing early signs of financial distress. One of Solyndra's major investors was George Kaiser, an Oklahoma billionaire who raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama during the 2008 election.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee also opened an investigation into the loan, which Republican House Energy and Commerce Committee members Rep. Cliff Stearns and Rep. Fred Upton said was, "suspect from day one."

President Obama has maintained that Solyndra got the loan "on [its] merits" -- though emails obtained by investigators show how eager some in the administration were to make the deal in spite of the company's troubled fundamentals.

"I have confidence decisions were made based upon what's good for the American people," Obama said in a press conference in October. "There were going to be some companies that did not work out. Solyndra was one of them."

Energy Secretary Steven Chu also denied he was influenced on Solyndra's behalf.

"I want to be clear," Chu told Congress in November. "Over the course of Solyndra's loan guarantee, I did not make any decision based on political considerations. My decision to guarantee a loan to Solyndra was based on the analysis of experienced professionals and on the strength of the information they had available to them at the time."

Officials at the U.S. Attorney's office declined to comment on for this report.

Jeffrey Bornstein, an attorney for K&L Gates often mentioned in the documents, told POLITICO, "Solyndra is continuing to cooperate with the United States Attorney’s Office in connection with its investigation."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov182011

Energy Secretary Defends Loan Made to Now-Bankrupt Solyndra

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Energy Secretary Steven Chu offered a spirited defense Thursday of the administration's decision to provide now-bankrupt solar panel company Solyndra with a $535 million loan guarantee in 2009.

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee kept pressing Chu to admit that political favoritism was the ultimate factor in approving the loan since Solyndra's biggest investors were backed by George Kaiser, a major contributor to President Obama.

Despite four hours of hard questions from the GOP lawmakers, Chu held his ground, repeatedly stating that politics had no role in Solyndra acquiring over a billion dollars from his department despite trepidation by some within the administration that the company was not financially solvent.

Resisting calls for his resignation, Chu said he took responsibility for the loan.  Given the benefit of hindsight, he admitted it was "extremely unfortunate" and "regrettable."

As far as knowing that Solyndra was a risky bet, Chu told lawmakers, "The range of predictions being made by financial analysts ... the average of those were not expecting [solar panel] prices to plummet.  These companies and others got caught in a very bad tsunami."

But Chu refused to offer an apology for what he did or the eventual outcome even while acknowledging that there was virtually no chance that the government would recover its money.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov162011

Energy Secretary Chu Takes Full Responsibility for Solyndra 

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Energy Secretary Steven Chu will accept full responsibility Thursday for the decision to risk $535 million on Solyndra, the government-supported solar panel manufacturer that shut its doors earlier this year, laying off 1,100 workers, and is now the subject of multiple federal investigations.

"As the Secretary of Energy, the final decisions on Solyndra were mine, and I made them with the best interest of the taxpayer in mind," Chu has written in testimony prepared for his first appearance before Congress to answer questions about the failed loan.

"I want to be clear: over the course of Solyndra's loan guarantee, I did not make any decision based on political considerations," says Chu's prepared testimony, which was made public by his aides late Wednesday. "My decision to guarantee a loan to Solyndra was based on the analysis of experienced professionals and on the strength of the information they had available to them at the time."

Chu's testimony before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee that has been investigating the loan is expected to be followed by pointed questions from Republican members who have been highly critical of the Solyndra loan. The loan to the California energy firm was at one time held up by the Obama administration as a model of the president's plan to infuse start-up clean energy firms with federal support in hopes of sprouting a vibrant new high tech industry.

But as ABC News first reported in March, in partnership with the Center for Public Integrity, the model first loan was emerging as a troubling example of a program that was taking big risks with public funds, and was in some instances benefitting investors who had strong political ties to Obama. One of the top investors in Solyndra, Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser, was also a prolific fundraiser for Obama during the 2008 campaign.

The Energy Department has maintained that the program remained untainted by politics, and that recipients of billions of dollars in federal loans were selected exclusively based on their potential for success – with no political consideration. In advance of Thursday's hearing, investigators with the Republican-led committee released the latest batch of internal emails it has reviewed. Among them were emails that suggested that Energy officials asked the company to delay layoffs at its California facility until after the Nov. 2 midterm elections.

The two congressmen leading the investigation, Reps. Fred Upton (Mich.) and Cliff Stearns (Fla.), released a statement saying they hope Chu's testimony will "shed light on key questions about the decision-making inside the Department of Energy and the role of other agencies and officials, from the Office of Management and Budget to the west wing of the White House."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov152011

Email: DOE Asked Solyndra to Delay Layoff Notice Until After Election

Ken James/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An email quoted by congressional investigators Tuesday suggests that the Obama administration asked solar firm Solyndra, the flagship of its green energy program, to postpone the announcement of job layoffs until after the 2010 midterm elections.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight subcommittee has been investigating the federal government's $535 million loan to Solyndra, which was backed by a major Obama fundraiser, to determine whether politics played any role in how the loan was awarded or restructured. The Department of Energy, which had made the California solar panel maker its first loan guarantee recipient, has maintained that the loan was awarded and administered based on its merits.

But the Republican majority on the subcommittee quoted an email provided by Argonaut Private Equity, the investment firm that backed Solyndra and is owned by Obama fundraiser George Kaiser, that the Republicans say shows that the Energy Department wanted to delay the announcement of Solyndra's layoff of 180 workers until the day after the Nov. 2, 2010 elections. According to the subcommittee, the layoffs were announced on Nov. 3, 2010, the day after the GOP landslide.

In early October, Solyndra was having financial problems and informed the Energy Department that it would need additional funds to keep operating. On Oct. 25, 2010, according to an email quoted by the subcommittee, Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison told the DOE that he had "received some press inquiries about rumors of problems," and also notified DOE that he wanted to tell employees about upcoming layoffs on Oct. 28.

According to a memo prepared by the subcommittee, Harrison's email was forwarded to Jonathan Silver, then head of the DOE Loan Programs Office, and to Energy Secretary Chu's chief of staff. Silver forwarded the email to Ron Klain, then Vice President Biden's chief of staff, as well as Carol Browner, then head of the White House climate change office, and another White House staffer.

On Oct. 30, 2010, according to the memo, "advisors for Argonaut Private Euity, Solyndra's largest investor, discussed the status of talks with DOE about the restructuring of the Solyndra [loan] guarantee." The subcommittee quotes an Argonaut email that says DOE "did push very hard for us to hold our announcement of the consolidation to employees and vendors to Nov. 3rd -- oddly they didn't give a reason for that date."

The subcommittee's memo says, "Several emails produced by Argonaut to the Committee reference the fact that the layoff announcement was postponed because of the November 2 elections." The memo does not quote from those emails or give dates.

The subcommittee also didn't release any of the emails quoted in the memo. Last week the Republican majority on the Energy and Commerce committee took heat from minority members for releasing incomplete emails in an attempt to make the Obama administration look bad. The Democrats said a fuller view of the emails in question actually presented evidence that the administration worked to avoid political meddling in the Solyndra deal.

The Energy Department said Tuesday that the latest email disclosure does not dispel its point: That the award to Solyndra was awarded on merit, not politics.

"The Republican report cites internal email from Argonaut about the timing of a press release," spokesman Damien LaVera wrote in reply to questions from iWatch News and ABC News. "But as the 180,000 pages of documents that the Department of Energy turned over to the Committee indicate, the Department's decisions about this loan were made on the merits, based on extensive review by the experts in the loan program -- and nothing in this Republican Committee memo changes that."

The DOE's Solyndra loan guarantee was announced in March 2009, two months into the Obama presidency, and heralded as a sign that a traditionally slow-moving agency could more rapidly spur projects benefiting the environment and economy. In its quest to award and later support its first guarantee recipient, the Energy Department ignored warnings from government staffers, outside analysts and even Solyndra's own auditor that it was, at best, a risky bet.

Earlier this year, with Solyndra swimming in debt, the Energy Department agreed to a refinancing that pushed back the company's payoff date -- and, notably, let investors including Kaiser stand in line first for reimbursement should the company fail. Those investors infused $75 million into Solyndra as DOE refinanced the company's debt this February. Under a pact between the parties, this round of investors will collect first in bankruptcy, and the government next.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who signed off on that agreement, will testify before the House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee Thursday. Jonathan Silver, head of the Energy Department's loan program, resigned from his post after testifying before the subcommittee earlier this year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov042011

White House Rejects Demand for Solyndra Documents

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House Friday rejected a Congressional demand for documents related to the failed solar firm Solyndra, accusing the Republicans on a committee investigating a massive federal loan to Solyndra of playing politics.

White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler said that the vote by the House and Energy Committee's investigative subcommittee's decision to subpoena all White House records on Solyndra, including emails, documents and memos, was "overbroad," "unprecedented and unnecessary." She noted that the White House had already supplied investigators with 85,000 documents.

"I can only conclude that your decision to issue a subpoena, authorized by a party line vote, was driven more by partisan politics than a legitimate effort to conduct a responsible investigation," Ruemmler wrote to Rep. Fred Upton, R.-Mich, chair of the committee, and Rep. Cliff Stearns, R.-Fla., who heads the subcommittee.

Rep. Upton issued a statement Friday saying that he had served both White House chief of staff William Daley and Vice President Biden's chief of staff Bruce Reed with subpoenas on Thursday evening.

"The White House could have avoided the need for subpoena authorizations if they had simply chosen to cooperate," said Rep. Upton. "That would have been the route we preferred, and frankly, it would have been better for the White House to get the information out now, rather than continue to drag this out.

Upton said the request for documents was "reasonable." "We are not demanding the President's blackberry messages, as we are respectful of Executive Privilege," said Upton. "What is the West Wing trying to hide? We owe it to American taxpayers to find out."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct272011

Amid Solyndra Scandal, Waxman Wants Probe into Collapse of Broadband Firm Open Range

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images edit Delete caption(WASHIGNTON) -- Congressional Democrats have asked House investigators to expand their probe of the Obama Administration’s Solyndra loan scandal to cover another speculative federal lending effort -- this one approved under President Bush.

In a letter to Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), three senior Democrats called on investigators to broaden their probe to cover a $267 million Agriculture Department loan to a Colorado-based start-up that tried to extend broadband Internet service to rural and underserved areas.

“There is also no good rationale for ignoring the $267 million loan to Open Range,” said the letter, signed by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), and Edward Markey (D-Mass.). “Your reaction to the Open Range bankruptcy could not be more different than your reaction to the Solyndra bankruptcy.”

On October 5, 2011, just weeks after Solyndra shut its doors, Open Range filed for bankruptcy. House Democrats said an investigation matching the vigor of the probe into Solyndra would show that the committee is serious about scrutinizing federal lending decisions, and not simply looking for opportunities to score political points.

The circumstances surrounding the Open Range differ from the Solyndra loan. Open Range was granted its loan at a time when it was receiving healthy financial reports from auditors; solar company Solyndra's fundamentals were considerably less sunny. In April, when Open Range began to struggle, the Agriculture Department restructured the loan to reduce the government’s exposure. As a result, the amount of federal loan money consumed by the company was contained at $73.5 million.

The Energy Department loan to Solyndra also started strong, but was forced to restructure the loan around the same time the Open Source deal was being revised. But, instead of dialing back its stake, DOE officials found additional money for the company -- investigators say at the repeated urging of the Obama administration -- and allowed private investors to jump ahead of the government, so that the investors would be eligible to collect the first $75 million recovered when bankruptcy proceedings kicked in.

In the end, Solyndra wound up consuming about $528 million of a $535 million taxpayer-funded loan.

House Democrats said there were enough similarities to warrant a comparable level of attention. And, despite their apparent urging to keep politics out of the investigation, their letter accused Republicans of downplaying the Open Range bankruptcy because the loan occurred under the previous, Republican administration. “That is not a defensible reason for ignoring Open Range,” they wrote.

House Republicans called the request for a broader investigation a “strange twist” coming from “members who fought so hard to block this investigation.”

“The Democrats have a fundamental misunderstanding of the Solyndra investigation,” said an emailed statement from the office of Rep. Upton, the Energy and Commerce Committee chairman. The probe is not into Solyndra, said the statement, but into a “gross mismanagement of taxpayer dollars.”

An Agriculture Department spokesman said in an emailed statement that, while the loan was approved before the new administration took over, the department still considers the goal of expanding broadband Internet into underserved areas an important goal.

“While we are of course disappointed this company did not succeed, rural infrastructure loans are essential to economic development in many communities throughout the country and 99 percent of these loans are repaid successfully,” said Dane S. Henshall, a USDA spokesman.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct132011

Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison Resigns

Ken James/Bloomberg via Getty Images(FREMONT, Calif.) -- The CEO of Solyndra, a California-based solar energy company that received a controversial $535 million loan guarantee from the Obama administration, has resigned.

In papers filed with a bankruptcy court Wednesday, Solyndra said that Brian Harrison had left his post on Friday, Oct. 7, "as contemplated even before these cases were commenced." Solyndra shut its doors and declared bankruptcy six weeks ago.

Solyndra filed the papers in a Delaware court in response to a motion by the Department of Justice to appoint a trustee to oversee the company's bankruptcy case. The Justice Department filed its motion after Harrison and Solyndra's CFO, W.G. Stover invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions from a Congressional committee probing the Solyndra loan during a Sept. 23 hearing. The company is also under investigation by the Justice Department, the Treasury Department and the Department of Energy's Inspector General.

The Obama administration had selected Solyndra as the first to receive a loan under an Energy Department program designed to provide government support to companies that would create jobs while generating energy from cleaner sources, such as solar, wind and nuclear. President Obama personally visited the Solyndra complex, hailing it as a leader in the field.

In August, Solyndra abruptly shut its doors, laying off 1,100 workers. Within days, it had declared bankruptcy. The House Energy and Commerce Committee's investigative subcommittee has held two hearings intending to unwind the deal and understand how signs of Solyndra's financial trouble had been overlooked by the Department of Energy.

A week after Solyndra's bankruptcy filing, federal agents searched the company's California headquarters, and visited the homes of Harrison, company founder Chris Gronet and a former executive.

Solyndra spokesman David Miller confirmed agents visited Harrison's home on the same day the FBI and Energy Department Inspector General seized boxes of records from the company's headquarters.

"Yeah, they did go to his house and speak to him briefly," Miller said. "I don't know what they may have taken. I believe they took a look at his computer."

Julie Sohn, a spokeswoman with the FBI in San Francisco, declined to discuss details of the government's investigation. "Unfortunately, our affidavits are still sealed so we can't go into any details," Sohn said.

In March, ABC News, in partnership with the Center for Public Integrity's iWatch News, began reporting on simmering questions about the role political influence may have played in Solyndra's selection as the Obama administration's first loan guarantee recipient.

Damien LaVera, an Energy Department spokesman, has told ABC News that politics never entered the decision to grant the loan, or restructure it earlier this year. LaVera said the department decided it was worth trying to redo the terms to try to salvage the government's initial investment.

"[P]olitical or optical considerations took a backseat to putting the company and its workers in a better position to succeed and repay the loan," he said.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has sought information from Solyndra's prime investors -- including Oklahoma oil billionaire George Kaiser, a bundler of campaign contributions to the president in 2008.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct062011

Obama: Solyndra Got Loan 'On the Merits'

Ken James/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama said Thursday that his administration has loaned billions to startup high-tech firms like the now-bankrupt solar firm Solyndra based not on political influence, but "on the merits."

"I have confidence decisions were made based upon what's good for the American people," Obama said in a press conference Thursday in response to questions from ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper. "There were going to be some companies that did not work out. Solyndra was one of them."

The president addressed multiple questions Thursday about Solyndra, the first recipient of a government loan under a program to help finance startup companies in the fledgling field of green energy. Solyndra declared bankruptcy last month, locking out 1,100 workers. The Energy Department loan is now the focus of investigations by Congress and the Department of Justice.

"All I can say is the Department of Energy made these decisions based on their best judgments," Obama said, defending the decision to make Solyndra the country's first loan guarantee recipient.

The press conference came as sources inside the White House were being more specific about what took place when billionaire oil magnate George Kaiser visited 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to talk with top Obama aides.

Kaiser, a major donor to Obama's campaign and a chief investor in the California solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, did not attempt to cajole the White House into giving the company a $535 million federal loan, a White House official told ABC News.

White House officials initially said they thought the meetings covered Kaiser's charity work. A new review of visitor logs by the Sunlight Foundation showed that Kaiser was accompanied by experts on energy policy to at least three of the meetings. On Wednesday, a White House official familiar with an internal review of meetings between Kaiser and such senior presidential aides as Valerie Jarrett and Pete Rouse told ABC News that the White House now firmly believes that Kaiser never broached the subject of the Solyndra loan.

Kaiser has "said publically that Solyndra was not discussed at these meetings, and we have no reason to dispute that," the White House official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he had not been given approval to discuss the matter. "We understand that the conversations in these meetings were focused on the general policy priorities of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, including early childhood education and poverty, health care policy and energy policy."

Questions about Kaiser's 16 White House visits -- including four that occurred in the days and weeks before the Energy Department approved Solyndra's loan -- have been the focus of significant attention since Solyndra declared bankruptcy. House Republicans in particular have been trying to determine whether political influence played any role in the selection of Solyndra in 2009 to become the first loan recipient under President Obama's plan to provide a boost to the fledgling "green energy" industry.

Kaiser is one of several Obama campaign supporters who had a stake in companies that later received federal loans, and his presence in the White House during the days before Solyndra's loan won conditional approval provoked speculation among some Republicans that politics had influenced the loan decision.

Senior administration officials have vociferously denied this charge, saying career employees inside the Department of Energy evaluated the loan on its merits, free from political meddling. But the chairman of the House subcommittee that is overseeing an investigation into the Solyndra matter wrote to the White House Counsel Wednesday seeking more documents on the subject. The letter specifically notes that Obama fundraisers and senior White House aides appeared to be engaged in discussions about Solyndra.

"Nearly eight months into our investigation, documents provided to the Committee last Friday confirm those closest to the President -- top advisors like Valerie Jarrett, Larry Summers, and Ron Klain -- had direct involvement in the Solyndra mess," said Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla. "In addition to the cast of West Wing characters with access to the Oval Office, documents reveal a startlingly cozy relationship between wealthy donors and the President's confidantes, especially in matters related to Solyndra."

The latest statement from the White House came, in part, in response to a new report from the non-partisan group The Sunlight Foundation. The foundation reported on its blog this week that a closer inspection of White House visitor logs found three instances in which Kaiser visited the White House with former Alaska Gov. Anthony Knowles. Knowles now serves as president of the Kaiser-funded National Energy Policy Institute, whose goal is "to move beyond total oil dependence and to supplant consumption of imported oil through increased domestic energy supply, reduced foreign oil and gas demand and lower carbon emissions to include enhancement of traditional sources of domestic oil, gas and coal."

"We did not advocate any specific policies or portfolio of policies," Knowles told the Sunlight Foundation in response to questions about the White House meetings.

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