Energy Dept. Asked Solyndra to Delay Layoff Announcement

...until day after 2010 midterm elections
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2011 7:35 AM CST
This Monday, Oct. 31, 2011 file photo shows an auction sign at the bankrupt Solyndra headquarters in Fremont, Calif. before an auction.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

(Newser) – More bad Solyndra press for the Obama administration: Emails released yesterday show that the Energy Department pushed the struggling solar company to delay announcing employee layoffs until after the 2010 midterm elections. On Oct. 25 of that year, Solyndra’s CEO sent the agency an email explaining that layoffs would be announced in three days because the story was "starting to leak" and journalists were asking questions, the Washington Post reports. But on Oct. 30, a Solyndra investment adviser sent an internal email noting that the Energy Department was pushing "very hard" for a delay to Nov. 3. "Oddly they didn’t give a reason for that date," he wrote.

Of course, Nov. 3—when the news that it was laying off 40 workers and 150 contractors and shuttering a factory was ultimately made—was the day after the elections. The CEO’s original email made its way to the Energy Department's loan program director, then to the Energy Secretary’s chief of staff, then to the White House climate change czar and a Joe Biden aide. But a rep says the climate change czar did not push the Energy Department to ask for the delay, and an Energy Department spokesperson would not identify who might have urged it. The emails were released in a House Energy and Commerce Committee memo in advance of the Energy secretary’s testimony before the committee tomorrow.

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