Treasury Worried That Solyndra Loan Was Illegal

Energy Dept. pushed ahead, amid potential conflict of interest
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2011 6:10 AM CDT
Treasury Worried Solyndra Loan Might Be Illegal
Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison. left, and Chief Financial Officer Bill Stover, right, are sworn in on Capitol Hill on Sept. 23.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

New emails are out in the Solyndra mess, and it's probably not a great day to be a guy named Steve Spinner. He is an Obama-fundraiser-turned-Energy-Department-official who pushed hard for the loan even though he promised to recuse himself—because his wife worked as an attorney for the firm representing Solyndra. The major news services are highlighting his role in making sure the loan happened, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Politico. (He has left his post and now works for a Democratic think tank.) The other main point to emerge: A Treasury official raised a red flag about the loan restructuring that went ignored. Mary Miller advised the Energy Department to get the Justice Department to sign off on the deal because it allowed private investors to be repaid before taxpayers if the company went bust. "To our knowledge, that never happened," Miller wrote.

Email snippets from Spinner:

  • “As agreed, I will recuse myself from any active participation in any of these applications.”
  • "Any word from OMB? I have the OVP and WH breathing down my neck on this ...," he wrote to an Energy Department staffer (referring to the Office of Management and Budget, the vice president's office and the White House).
  • "How (expletive) hard is this? What is he waiting for?” Spinner wrote, complaining about an OMB official's apparent reluctance to approve the deal. “Will we have it by end of day? If any risk of not, let me know..."
(More Solyndra stories.)

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