Turns out the White House knew investing $535 million in Solyndra wasn't such a good idea. Newly disclosed emails provided to the congressional investigator show signs of worry from both Solyndra and White House officials that the investment didn't make sense, report The New York Times's Eric Lipton and Matthew L. Wald. Yet, the emails don't necessarily further incriminate Obama--at least that's the Democrats' spin.
An email exchange between Brad Jones, an executive at Redpoint Ventures and then presidential chief economic adviser Lawrence Summers reveals early doubts.
Jones: "One of our solar companies with revenues of less than $100 million (and not yet profitable) received a government loan of $580 million ... While that is good for us, I can’t imagine it's a good way for the government to use taxpayer money."
Summers: "I relate well to your view that gov is a crappy vc ... But suppose we think there are all kinds of externalities to renewable investments ... What should we do?"
Further emails show that as Obama prepared to visit the ailing company, White House aides debated if the President should even make an appearance, reports Politico. "A number of us are concerned that the president is visiting Solyndra," Steve Westly, a prominent California venture capitalist and a member of Obama’s 2008 national finance committee wrote to White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. "[T]here is an increasing concern about the company because their auditors, Coopers and Lybrand, have issued a 'going concern' letter. ... Many of us believe the company’s cost structure will make it difficult for them to survive long term."
As the investigation into Obama's suspect ties to the solar company continues, deeper White House knowledge of the bad investment doesn't help the case. Yet, the Democrats argue that the e-mails didn't produce any smoking-guns, continues Politico.
"The documents produced Friday, like the other documents received by the subcommittee to date in the Solyndra investigation, do not contain evidence that government decisions relating to Solyndra were influenced by considerations relating to campaign donations," the Democratic staffs wrote. "Rather, the documents show that there was internal disagreement within the administration about Solyndra’s viability and the effectiveness of the loan guarantee program throughout the process.
It's just a little healthy debate.