Solyndra execs to plead Fifth in hearing

C.J. Ciaramella Contributor
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The chief executive and chief financial officer of Solyndra will invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and decline to answer any questions at a congressional hearing on Friday.

According to letters obtained by Reuters, Solyndra attorneys have advised CEO Brian Harrison and CFO W. G. Stover to not testify at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. (RELATED: Rahm Emanuel on Solyndra: I don’t remember)

“I have advised Mr. Harrison that he should decline to answer questions put to him by this subcommittee based on his rights under the Fifth Amendment,” Harrison’s attorney, Walter F. Brown Jr., wrote to the the committee. “This is not a decision arrived at lightly, but it is a decision dictated by current circumstances.”

The House Energy and Commerce Committee opened an investigation into Solyndra after the solar panel manufacturing company — which received a $535 million loan from the Department of Energy — announced it would be declaring bankruptcy earlier this month.

Emails obtained by the committee have pointed to White House influence in the decision to award Solyndra its loan. Critics have rallied around the case as an example of the Obama administration’s failed stimulus plan, specifically Obama’s much-touted green energy initiative.

The decision by Solyndra executives to not testify is a reversal of expectations. Committee chairman Rep. Cliff Stearns said last week he had been told the executives would testify.

However, in the letter, Solyndra lawyers said the decision not to testify was necessary due to a criminal investigation. The FBI and the Energy Department’s inspector general executed a search warrant at Solyndra’s Fremont headquarters on Sept. 8, two days after the company announced it would declare bankruptcy.

Harrison is represented by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Stover is represented by Keker & Van Nest.

C.J. Ciaramella