GOP critical of government loan given to Solyndra

September 1, 2011 4:49:21 PM PDT
The sudden bankruptcy and closure of Fremont's solar panel maker Solyndra is taking a political turn in Washington. House Republicans say taxpayers are out half-a-billion dollars because of ties between a Solyndra investor and President Obama.

As some 1,100 East Bay employees try to figure out what to do after being layed off from Solyndra yesterday, Republicans in Washington are renewing questions about the now shuttered solar panel manufacturer. In July, Republican members of the House Energy Committee had subpoenaed White House documents related to the $535 million government loan given to Solyndra. But those Republicans say they are yet to receive the documents.

Republican House members say the government loan unfairly favored Solyndra because of one of its key investors -- billionaire George Kaiser. Kaiser is on Republican's radar because he is one of the Democratic Party's biggest fund raisers. He also bundled millions of dollars for Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Kaiser has deep ties to the Bay Area. His philanthropic ventures include the George Kaiser Family Foundation -- which fights childhood poverty. But his deep investment in Solyndra and Democratic Party ties is what's causing Republicans to raise further questions about the government backed loan.

Republican Michigan Congressman Fred Upton relayed some of those concerns to 'Good Morning America.'

"We had been raising questions about this from the get go and it is really bad news that we got today that they filed for bankruptcy. And again leaving the taxpayer holding the bag probably," said Rep. Upton.

Solyndra's public profile was boosted in May of last year when President Obama visited the company. He said it was a key part of his administration's green initiative.

The Department of Energy issued a long blog post on its website after the shutdown Wednesday, saying in part: "We have always recognized that not every one of the innovative companies supported by our loans and loan guarantees would succeed, but we can't stop investing in game changing technologies that are key to America's leadership in the global economy."

The shutdown of Solyndra came just as the world market of solar panels took a 42 percent price plunge this year. Mostly because of low priced Chinese built solar panels that are backed by interest free loans from the Chinese government.


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