Emails suggest White House involvement in loan to bankrupt Abound Solar
Just one day after President Barack Obama went on television saying that politics had nothing to do with the now bankrupt Abound Solar receiving a taxpayer-backed loan guarantee from the Energy Department, emails have surfaced that appear to contradict his claim.
“And these are decisions, by the way, that are made by the Department of Energy, they have nothing to do with politics,” President Obama told KUSA’s Kyle Clark. (RELATED VIDEO: Watch the local news anchor grill Obama on green spending, campaign rhetoric, Libya)
However, emails obtained by COMPLETECOLORADO.COM suggest that the White House was involved in the Energy Department’s decision to award Abound Solar a $400 million loan guarantee.
The emails also indicate that the loan guarantee was political payback to Democratic benefactor Pat Stryker.
In one email, Energy Department loan executive Jonathan Silver tells credit adviser Jim McCrea that, “You better [let] him know the [White House] wants to move Abound forward,” referring to Treasury adviser Ian Samuels, who apparently wasn’t moving fast enough to schedule calls regarding Abound.
The second page of the email mentions the “… transaction pressure under which we are all now operating …” This email chain came just days before President Obama hailed government loan guarantees as a boon to Colorado’s economy in 2010.
Another email called into question Abound’s market readiness in regards to its plans with the Energy Department.
“I was talking with Technical today… re Abound and they still have major issues with the transaction,” wrote McCrea in the email. The email was sent just two months before the Abound loan was announced.
McCrea expressed his doubts about the solar industry in general the year before, saying he didn’t “know how to pick winners.”
“All in all in the solar field, l think it is extremely easy to pick losers and l really do not know how to pick winners,” he wrote in a 2009 email.
Abound Solar is currently under criminal investigation by the Weld County District Attorney’s Office in northern Colorado for securities fraud, consumer fraud and financial misrepresentation, according to the Denver Post.
No criminal charges have been filed yet.
Congress has also launched an investigation into Abound Solar and has sent Energy Secretary Steven Chu a letter asking him to provide documents and information regarding what the Energy Department knew about the troubled company.
“Recent reports and publicly available documents indicate that persistent technological problems contributed to Abound’s inability to remain commercially viable and ultimately, its bankruptcy,” said the letter to Chu.
“We need to know, did the Department of Energy — did they close on the loan when they knew there were technical problems with the product?” Republican Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner said. “The fact that we have taxpayers on the hook for $70 million means that we, in Congress, have a responsibility to make sure nothing was done improperly.”
Abound Solar suffered from major technical problems well before it received the $400 million loan guarantee. A Daily Caller News Foundation investigation, using internal documentation and testimony from sources within Abound, revealed that the company was selling a faulty, underperforming product, and may have mislead lenders at one point in order to keep itself afloat.
“Our solar modules worked as long as you didn’t put them in the sun,” an internal source told The DCNF.
The company knew its panels were faulty prior to obtaining taxpayer dollars, according to sources, but kept pushing product out the door in order to meet Energy Department goals required by the company’s $400 million loan guarantee.
“The DOE hurt us more than anything,” another source told The DCNF, referring to the Energy Department’s production and revenue metrics.
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