FBI and Department of Energy agents executed a search warrant of Solyndra’s headquarters in Fremont California this morning, according to the Los Angeles Times. An FBI spokesperson confirmed the search but did not elaborate on what the agents were trying to find (Pajamas Media had a guess: “anybody seen $535 million around here?”).
Solyndra fired 1000 employees and filed for bankruptcy last week. The federal raid came only two days after the bankruptcy announcement. Some analysts claim a combination of shady ties to the Obama administration and crony capitalism are reasons behind the raid.
The massive taxpayer-backed Solyndra debacle is already fraught with allegations of inside dealing. Based on a report in the Tulsa World, there appears to be deep ties between George Kaiser, Solyndra, and the White House. Kaiser is an Oklahoma oil billionaire and major Obama fundraiser — a “bundler” in Beltway parlance.
Kaiser also has the George Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit that, based on its mission statement, involves itself in a host of social entrepreneurship, including alternative energy. The investment arm of Kaiser’s foundation — Argonaut Ventures — owned a huge piece of Solyndra as it received direct political support from the White House and money from the federal government.
Kaiser’s organization is already trying to distance him from any involvement in the investment and the government’s $500 million guarantee. A statement released by the foundation read:
“George Kaiser is not an investor in Solyndra and did not participate in any discussions with the U.S. government regarding the loan. GKFF invests in a globally diversified portfolio across many different asset classes.”
“The [bankruptcy] filing indicates that Argonaut Ventures, an investment arm of the Tulsa-based foundation, holds almost 39 percent of Solyndra’s parent, 360 Solar Degree Holdings Inc.”
“George Kaiser is chairman of BOK Financial Corp. and owner of Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. Argonaut is headed by Steve Mitchell, who also served on Solyndra’s board of directors.”
“Between March 12, 2009, and April 14, 2011, Solyndra officials and investors made no fewer than 20 trips to the West Wing… including 4 trips logged the week before the $500 million loan was announced.”
A quick look at the balance sheet numbers right now indicates that the Solyndra bankruptcy will cost taxpayers most if not all of the $500 million loan guarantees. Meanwhile, certain favored parties, including Kaiser-controlled Argonaut, may get special treatment with regard to its debt (is anybody else having a GM bondholder tingle?) while the taxpayers get hosed.
Solyndra is only one of about 40 companies that have received money from an Energy Department loan program over the last two years. The program was ostensibly designed to push along wind, solar, nuclear and ethanol projects. The Energy Department initially estimated the combined projects would create about 60,000 jobs, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The FBI/DOE raids are not the only thing that should concern Solyndra executives, investors, and government officials. Congressman Cliff Stearns‘s office has posted a press release that there will be House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Oversight hearing held next week to learn the truth about Solyndra and its government ties.
In any case, it has become apparent that the Obama White House is not in the business of “picking winners and losers” in the private sector.
It just picks losers.