Solyndra's layoffs larger than previously reported


From the beginning opponents of the president have been crying "cover-up" in regards to Solyndra and now they've got more ammunition. The Bay Citizen had to file a Freedom Of Information Act request in order to get the numbers, but they got them.

When Solyndra closed its doors last August, the company reported 1,100 workers laid off.

"The day they threw us out the door, they cut off our benefits and gave us nothing," said Paul Silva, a Solyndra technician.

Workers at the time say they suspected the company had been hiding the fact that their panels weren't selling. Production continued even as panels were stacking up inside the factory. However, Solyndra's managers never did talk about that or anything else. When the CEO and CFO were called before Congress to explain what happened to the $535 million government loan, they both refused to answer.

Republican members of Congress cried "cover-up" and so did some of laid off workers.

"You take the fifth because you got something to hide," said Silva.

We now know the company was hiding the actual number of layoffs. In Labor Department documents obtained by the Bay Citizen, the actual number is estimated at 1,861 -- 761 more than Solyndra said when the company closed.

The Labor Department has known the real number for nearly a year. Remember when FBI agents raided Solyndra, carting away boxes of paper documents? Well, later that month the company reported to the Labor Department the actual number of layoffs.

Last month, Mitt Romney stood in front of Solyndra and talked about the 1,100 layoffs as a symbol of stimulus spending failure. And this latest revelation is just more red meat for the Romney campaign, says Jonathan Wilcox is a Republican strategist.

"There's no question, this is Barack Obama's Enron, I truly believe that. From the beginning, what we've seen about this scandal, about the whole Solyndra story, is a repeated cover-up and pressure. A cover-up in front of the media and pressure on the inside," said Wilcox.

Romney's campaign has been trying to make the case that the Obama campaign green-lighted the Solyndra loan for political reasons, but an investigation has so far failed to produce evidence of that. Late last year, Bloomberg reported that even with Solyndra's failure the U.S. clean energy loan program's default rate was 3.6 percent, a fraction of what was anticipated.

There was no comment from the Labor Department and our calls and emails to Solyndra also hit a dead end. The best the Obama campaign can hope for is the Solyndra story doesn't have any more threads.

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