It seems the story about Solyndra -- the belly-up solar panel company that was cleared for a $535 million loan guarantee despite warning signs -- is the story that just won't go away. Now, the Washington Post is reporting that officials and a donor close to the president warned the White House not to visit the company, advice that was ignored.
“A number of us are concerned that the president is visiting Solyndra,” California investor and Obama fundraiser Steve Westly wrote to Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett in May 2010, the same month the President visited. “Many of us believe the company’s cost structure will make it difficult for them to survive long term. ... I just want to help protect the president from anything that could result in negative or unfair press.”
The message gets even more damning: “If it’s too late to change/postpone the meeting, the president should be careful about unrealistic/optimistic forecasts that could haunt him in the next 18 months if Solyndra hits the wall, files for bankruptcy, etc.”
But Westlly wasn't the only one concerned. According to e-mails released Monday (which included Wesly's warnings), Office of Management and Budget (OMB) officials also cautioned the president.
One OMB official wrote: “I am increasingly worried that this visit could prove embarrassing to the Administration in the not too distant future, given 1) what we just heard today from DOE that Solyndra is delaying their IPO at least until the end of the year, and 2) what the auditors said about Solyndra making it through the year absent new financing.”
But that warning was brushed aside by the Department of Energy as typical worry associated with a start-up.
Now we know, that worry was well-placed. And now we know that such worry made its way all the way to the White House.