Solyndra, a California-based thin-film PV manufacturer, received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy in 2010, but filed for bankruptcy in September of this year.
The House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee voted 14-9 along party lines to authorize sending the subpoenas. The move comes after numerous requests for access to more of the White House internal communications regarding the solar firm were denied.
The subpoenas were sent to White House Chief of Staff William Daley and Bruce Reed, Vice President Joe Biden’s Chief of Staff.
Solyndra was headquartered in Fremont, CA. Photo Credit: Washington Post
By November 10, the White House must inform the Subcommittee of the content of the files – although the documents themselves need not be handed over.
“The White House could have avoided the need for subpoena authorizations if they had simply chosen to cooperate,” said Fred Upton (R-MI), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman.
“That would have been the route we preferred, and frankly, it would have been better for the White House to get the information out now, rather than continue to drag this out.”
“Unprecedented and Unnecessary”
But in a letter delivered on Friday, White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler called the subpoenas “unprecedented and unnecessary.”
The subpoenas call for documents relating to any investor in Solyndra and the influence of campaign contributions on the decisions to grant or restructure the loan guarantee.
But according to Ruemmler, the requests are still too broad, reflecting a “general curiosity about internal White House communications” that does not warrant “encroaching on longstanding and important Executive Branch confidentiality interests.”
She urged the Congressmen to go through the over 70, 000 pages of documents already made available.
“These communications, which the agencies have been producing for weeks now, are the best evidence of any White House involvement in decision-making on the Solyndra loan guarantee,” she said.