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It Wouldn’t Be Saturday Morning Without Another Friday Night Solyndra Document Dump to Sift Through

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By Doug Powers  •  February 18, 2012 09:52 AM

**Written by Doug Powers

The Energy and Commerce Committee has given the White House a deadline of next Tuesday to release documents related to Solyndra in eleven specified categories. Failure to do so could result in a contempt of Congress vote. According to the ECC, yesterday’s 463-page Solyndra doc dump included material from only one of the eleven categories.

In their cover letter to Republicans on the ECC, White House lawyers pointed out that once again these documents contained “no smoking guns” as far as evidence of political favoritism goes (their defense on the Solyndra debacle up to now seems to be “we’re not crooked, just irresponsible”). As with any partial release of records on the honor system, why would anybody expect the docs contain any smoking guns? That’s not to say there weren’t a couple items of interest:

White House emails released Friday added further evidence that concerns about the Energy Department loan guarantee program that benefited Solyndra had reached as high as President Barack Obama’s top economic adviser, Larry Summers, by early 2010.

References to Summers’s concerns turn up in a March 4, 2010, email exchange in which White House officials were second-guessing whether Obama should trumpet Solyndra’s exports to Australia during a planned visit later that month to the country.

And later, a poor private vs. public “investment” ratio is deemed to be worth not mentioning:

In the May 25 email exchange, Jared Bernstein wrote to Herbert Ziskend, one of Biden’s domestic policy advisers, “But do you have a leverage # for Solyndra — how much pvt cap [private capital] they raised off of the loan guarantee?”

Elizabeth Oxhorn, a press aide in Biden’s office, replied with the figure: “Solyndra raised $198m in private capital between selection in March 2009 and the loan closing in September 2009.”

Bernstein responded that the figure was not one he wanted to talk about with the press. “Weird — so leverage is like 2/5 ($198 m leverage against loan guarantee of $535m)… best not to go there,” he wrote.

The February 21st deadline will come and go, as other deadlines have. Part of the ECC’s mistake was requesting the material with a Tuesday deadline when the Document Dump Czar only works Friday afternoons. Levels of transparency this historic can’t be rushed and must occur just before the weekend in order to be fully appreciated.

**Written by Doug Powers

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