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Yet Another Solyndra Weekend Doc Dump

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By Doug Powers  •  March 17, 2012 03:18 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

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Friday has passed us by, which means another batch of Solyndra emails were released. Solyndra weekend email dumps have become the Saturday matinée serial cliffhangers of the 21st century, except a lot more expensive — but at least Flash Gordon’s rocket ship is now powered by algae and solar panels.

This weekend’s Solyndra dump tells the story of an administration that was considering having Solyndra execs sit in the First Lady’s box for the January 2011 State of the Union address, until a White House staffer saw the writing on the wall:

The idea of seating Solyndra officials with first lady Michelle Obama in the Capitol during the president’s nationally televised speech came up around the same time that DOE was preparing a controversial change to the company’s $535 million federal loan guarantee, which wound up increasing the risk to taxpayers.

But Daniella Gibbs Léger, director of White House message events, batted down the idea of a State of the Union invite before it could be raised among her superiors. “Can’t do Solyndra … they’ve run into some issues recently. :(,” she wrote on Jan. 5, 2011.

So the director of White House message events knew Solyndra’s problems were not just bad, but “unhappy face emoticon” bad. It’s probably for the better… if people from Solyndra had been in the SOTU audience it might have ended up being too much for Joe Biden to handle.

It doesn’t end with that little anecdote. Writing at Hot Air, the timeline seemed odd to Ed Morrissey, considering the Department of Energy allowed Solyndra $75 million in new financing and a restructured deal after the January 2011 SOTU:

So the question raised is this: If the White House comms group and its climate czar both knew that Solyndra was an embarrassment, and so much so that the comms group nixed having Solyndra execs attend the 2011 SOTU in person, then why did Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu agree to restructure the loan less than a month later on such unfavorable terms?

This is from an ABC News report from last year about who benefited from the restructured deal — you’ve probably guessed by now:

Under terms of the bankruptcy filing, investors including Argonaut — which led a $75 million round of financing for Solyndra earlier this year — will stand in line before the federal government and other creditors.

When Solyndra announced that round of fundraising this February, it noted that the DOE had refinanced terms of the $535 million loan to extend the payment period. Under an “inter-creditor agreement” cited in the bankruptcy filing, the investors in the $75 million financing are considered first lien holders. That leaves Obama officials to confront the prospect of waiting behind private companies.

Energy officials confirmed this arrangement, saying that private investors including Kaiser would first recoup their $75 million, then the U.S. government would have a chance to recover $150 million of its investment. If any money is left, the private investors and the U.S. government would divvy up the remainder in equal shares.

What it boils down to is that Solyndra was too much of a political risk to feature their execs at a State of the Union speech, but not too much of a financial risk to put taxpayers on the hook for yet again (unfortunately in DC taxpayer money is considered a renewable resource).

How do we fix this mess? I guess we could start by replacing Steven Chu with Daniella Gibbs Léger.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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