CNN

September 14th, 2011

Rep. Upton talks about Solyndra Inc.

CNN’s John King asks Rep. Fred Upton about a loan to a solar firm whose bankruptcy could cost taxpayers $535 million.  A highlight from the interview is below and the full transcript will be posted on CNN.com.

Please credit all usage of the interview to CNN’s John King, USA

Highlight from Interview
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED

CNN’s JOHN KING:  I want to read from one of the e-mail exchanges that has people curious and some people suspicious of whether the White House was trying to help a donor.

This is an e-mail exchange August 31, the special assistant to the then-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel noted the vice president’s announcement at Solyndra, the vice president was planning to go for a trip and asked whether, quote, “there is anything we can help speed along on the OMB side.”  Essentially the chief of staff’s office saying can we help speed the process up.

Now how is that any different — I bet your office from time to time has called whether it’s the Small Business Administration or the Veterans Administration to help a constituency, saying, hey, the bureaucracy is bugged up, gummed up, speed this up.

REP. FRED UPTON:  Look, when you’re looking at $535 million, shouldn’t someone be asking the question is this viable or not, particularly when the administration itself said, you know what, if thing goes forward, they could be out of cash by September of 2011?

That was two years — a year and a half before September 2011 came about.  Their own — own stuff that they had showed that this was not perhaps going to be a viable company.  Why, then, are they speeding forward?  Why are they change — or going against what the law says in terms of restructuring to try and push this before the evidence is there?

We’ve seen evidence that they knew that, in fact, it cost $6.00 per panel and they were selling them for $3.00.  Who makes money that way?  The taxpayer loses.

KING:  We’ve dealt with the politics question, but I just want to ask you clearly because people watching at home.  You say want to find out, you’ll bring in the witnesses.  As we speak today, you have zero evidence of wrongdoing, correct?  You just have suspicions?

UPTON:  Well, we’ve got now — you know, we tried to get the documentation early on.  We scheduled hearings and the administration literally didn’t show up.  They promised us that they were going to provide documents.  They never came.

Finally, we resorted to the last resort and that was a subpoena, and in mid-July we served a subpoena on the administration.  It still took more than a month to get a lot of the stuff that was there.  And as we’re examining now a lot of the stuff that we finally got, we’re now finding these e-mails that nobody knew about before.

So, we’re going to see exactly where this takes us, how did this thing get approved, and how — who made the decision to restructure the loan so that, in fact, at the end of the day because they did go belly up, in direct contradiction to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, did someone make the decision to put the taxpayer last instead of first when they filed Chapter 11.

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