Emails: Emanuel suggested White House involvement in Solyndra

C.J. Ciaramella Contributor
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Chicago Mayor and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel may have forgotten Solyndra, but the ongoing scandal over the failed solar company and its $535 million Department of Energy loan guarantee hasn’t forgotten him.

Despite Emanuel’s earlier amnesia regarding his involvement in the Solyndra transaction, emails released by the White House Friday at the request of congressional investigators suggest Emanuel had a personal hand in crafting the White House’s Solyndra strategy, including the President’s May 2010 visit to the solar panel factory.

“[Klain] has talked to Rahm about this and feels Rahm wants this too (barring any concerns)—POTUS’s involvement was Rahm’s idea,’ Aditya Kumar, a White House director of special projects, wrote in an August 2009 email to other officials.

Speaking to Chicago radio station WLS 890AM at a news conference in October, Emanuel said he didn’t remember anything about the failed investment loan guaranteed by the Department of Energy, which critics say was fast-tracked to fit the White House’s political agenda.

“Ya know, I’m focusing on a major announcement today for the City Of Chicago,” Emanuel said. “I don’t actually remember that or know about it. So, what I’m dealing is with what I’m dealing with here today.”

However, emails disclosed by the White House show pressure on the Department of Energy and the Office of Management and Budget to approve the loan.

“Ron said this morning that the POTUS definitely wants to do this (or Rahm definitely wants the POTUS to do this?),” one White House staffer wrote to an Obama scheduler in August 2009, referring to Ron Klain, Vice President Joe Biden’s former chief of staff.

When later asked by a reporter if the emails had perhaps jogged Emanuel’s memory, the former White House Chief of Staff said, “No, because I’m focused on exactly what I need to do here in the city of Chicago.”

Emanuel’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

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