Staffers who once worked for White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel may have to answer questions about their involvement in a botched solar energy deal.
Congressional Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are putting together subpoenas for five White House aides who allegedly worked to pour more than $500 million in federal loans guarantees into Solyndra, a California solar power company that has since gone defunct. It filed for bankruptcy last year despite the loan support.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee plans to meet on Friday to issue subpoenas for five executive branch employees that they say were involved in the Department of Energy loan given to Solyndra. This will be the third subpoena the committee has considered to obtain information or testimony regarding the Solyndra case.
The staffers being targeted include Kevin Carroll, Kelly Colyar and Fouad Saad of the Office of Management and Budget, Heather Zichal, a White House aide who worked on energy and Aditya Kumar, who worked for Rahm Emanuel in the West Wing and whose name appears in emails on the subject of Solyndra.
Emanuel himself is not mentioned as a potential target of the Republican inquiry, but Kumar is closely tied to the former Chief of Staff. The now Chicago Mayor said he would cooperate if he were ever subpoenaed in the case.
The Committee Chairman, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) said in a statement "Friday marks one year since we launched our investigation into the half billion dollar Solyndra loan guarantee, and still, the Obama administration will not even answer the most basic questions about what took place. The level of White House obstruction goes so far that they have blocked the committee from having a simple conversation with those executive branch employees who know the most about Solyndra's loan guarantee."
Earlier this year House Republicans subpoenaed the White House for documents related to the loan guarantees.
A set of emails that were turned over to congressional investigators in 2011 appear to implicate Emanuel in the scandal. The correspondence show that Emanuel may have urged Vice President Joe Biden to hold an event touting Solyndra.
One email from a White House official indicates Emanuel talked to Ron Klain, Biden's chief of staff, to plan an event in summer 2009, despite concerns raised by White House environmental adviser Heather Zichal about Solyndra's finances.
"[Klain] has talked to Rahm about this and feels Rahm wants this too (barring any concerns)--POTUS's involvement was Rahm's idea," Kumar, a White House director of special projects, wrote in an e-mail to other officials in August 2009.
In September, Emanuel denied any knowledge of the Solyndra loan to WLS Radio's Bill Cameron.
"I don't actually remember that or know about it," Emanuel said.
But e-mails from White House officials dumped in October revealed that Emanuel may have been the one eager to spotlight Solyndra in early 2009, despite concerns that the California company could be financially unstable.