US Was Blind to Cracks at Solyndra

Firm launched $1.8M lobbying campaign
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Sep 23, 2011 8:34 AM CDT
President Barack Obama heads inside to deliver a speech after meeting with construction workers building a new Solyndra solar panel factory May 26, 2010 in Fremont, California.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The Obama administration, eager to approve funding for a hard-lobbying Solyndra, overlooked key flaws that ultimately brought down the company, insiders and analysts tell the New York Times. None of the other solar panel firms that received federal loan guarantees hired lobbyists; “it was made clear to us early in the process that that was clearly verboten,” said the head of one company. But Solyndra spent some $1.8 million on lobbyists close to members of the administration and Congress.

Though Energy Department officials say the lobbying didn’t affect them, Solyndra ended up with the highest loan guarantee of the four solar panel manufacturers that received them. That department gave preliminary loan approvals to the firm before required evaluations were even finished, the Government Accountability Office finds. And when solar-power trade publications saw trouble at Solyndra, the company touted ongoing success to the White House. “Even as late as this summer, Solyndra executives told us here in Washington that the company’s finances were improving,” says Rep. Cliff Stearns, head of the inquiry into the company. So where did that loan money go? (Read more Solyndra stories.)

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