Cheer up, taxpayers: Solyndra may never pay back its $535 million loan, but it put the money to good use. Like, for example, building a shiny conference room with nifty glass walls that could turn solid gray at the flip of a switch. That’s one of several questionable expenditures ex-employees reveal in a Washington Post article today. The company also bought advanced equipment, never used it, and resold it for a tiny fraction of the cost.
“After we got the loan guarantee, they were just spending money left and right,” one former engineer said. “That infusion of money, it made people sloppy.” Stacks of unsold solar panels started to pile up, and eventually CEO Brian Harrison told employees that the sales estimates used to justify to the feds the construction of a second factory were wildly optimistic. At the same time the company more than tripled its lobbying budget, fighting for another $400 million loan that never came. (Read more Solyndra stories.)