Emails suggest White House involvement in loan to bankrupt Abound Solar
2:00 PM 10/27/2012 Michael Bastasch
Just one day after President Obama went on television saying that politics had nothing to do with the now bankrupt Abound Solar receiving a taxpayer-backed loan guarantee from the Energy Department, emails have surfaced that contradict these claims and suggest White House involvement in the company receiving the loan.
“And these are decisions, by the way, that are made by the Department of Energy, they have nothing to do with politics,” President Obama told KUSA’s Kyle Clark.
However, emails obtained by COMPLETECOLORADO.COM suggest that the White House was involved in the Energy Department awarding Abound Solar a $400 million loan gurantee, contradicting the President’s claim.
The emails also suggest that the loan guarantee was political payback to Democratic benefactor Pat Stryker.
In one email, DOE loan executive Jonathan Silver tells DOE credit advisor Jim McCrea that, “You better [let] him know the [White House] wants to move Abound forward,” referring to Treasury Advisor Ian Samuels who wasn’t moving fast enough on scheduling calls regarding Abound.
The second page of the email mentions the “…transaction pressure under which we are all now operating…” This email chain came just days before President Obama hailed government loan guarantees as a boon to Colorado’s economy in 2010.
Another email puts into question Abound’s market-readiness in regards to their plans with the DOE.
“I was talking with Technical today… re Abound and they still have major issues with the transaction,” wrote McCrea in the email. This email occurred just two months before the Abound loan was announced.
McCrea expressed his doubts about the solar industry in general the year before saying he didn’t “know how to pick winners.”
“All in all in the solar field, l think it is extremely easy to pick losers and l really do not know how to pick winners,” he wrote in a 2009 email.
Abound solar is currently under criminal investigation by the Weld County District Attorney’s Office in northern Colorado for securities fraud, consumer fraud, and financial misrepresentation, according to the Denver Post.
No criminal charges have been filed yet.
Congress has also launched an investigation into Abound Solar, sending secretary Energy Secretary Steven Chu a letter asking for the secretary to provide documents and information regarding what the Energy Department knew about Abound Solar’s actions while giving it taxpayer dollars.
“Recent reports and publicly available documents indicate that persistent technological problems contributed to Abound’s inability to remain commercially viable and ultimately, its bankruptcy,” said the letter to Chu.
“We need to know, did the Department of Energy — did they close on the loan when they knew there were technical problems with the product?” Republican Congressman Cory Gardner of Colorado said. “The fact that we have taxpayers on the hook for $70 million means that we, in Congress, have a responsibility to make sure nothing was done improperly.”
Abound Solar suffered from major technical problems well before they received the $400 million loan guarantee. A Daily Caller News Foundation investigation, using internal documentation and testimony from sources within Abound, revealed that the company was selling a faulty, underperforming product, and may have mislead lenders at one point in order to keep itself afloat.
“Our solar modules worked as long as you didn’t put them in the sun,” an internal source told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The company knew its panels were faulty prior to obtaining taxpayer dollars, according to sources, but kept pushing product out the door in order to meet Department of Energy goals required for their $400 million loan guarantee.
“The DOE hurt us more than anything,” another source told The DC News Foundation, speaking of DOE production and revenue metrics