GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said he would have fired Energy Secretary Steven Chu over his involvement in the still-unraveling Solyndra scandal.
Speaking at a fundraising event, Gingrich said Chu and the Department of Energy should be on the hook for solar company Solyndra, which received a $535 million DOE loan only to later declare bankruptcy.
“As president, I would have fired Sec. Chu for so grossly mismanaging taxpayer dollars,” Gingrich said. “Furthermore, to protect taxpayers, I would have blocked any additional loan guarantees until a full investigation had taken place into the mismanagement and potential corruption in the loan for Solyndra.”
The DOE secretary has come under increasing fire for his role in Solyndra, as has the White House. However, White House press secretary Jay Carney recently said Chu has “the full confidence” of President Obama. The comment rankled Gingrich.
“The president says he has full confidence in Secretary Chu despite this scandal,” Gingrich continued. “What kind of confidence can we have in a president who refuses to hold his cabinet officers accountable?”
Despite the failure of Solyndra, Chu and the administration have defended the DOE program, which has issued billions of dollars in loans to renewable energy projects across the country.
Speaking at a DOE event Saturday, Chu dismissed criticism from those who he said “are ready to wave the white flag and declare defeat.”
He said the U.S. “can’t afford not to” invest in clean energy in the face of steep competition from China, Germany and other countries.
“It’s not enough for our country to invent clean energy technologies, we have to make them and use them, too,” Chu said. “Invented in America, made in America and sold around the world. That’s how we’ll create good jobs and lead in the 21st century.”