Tag: Government Accountability Office

Amateur hour continued

It seems that we have the amateurs making more comedy as they violate a law they passed themselves:

It’s not every day that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that the Executive Office of the President violated federal law, but that’s the conclusion the GAO released in a report this month, after reviewing bilateral talks with the Chinese government hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

The White House Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) disputes GAO’s analysis, arguing that the law does not constitutionally apply to the OSTP’s diplomatic activities.

The disagreement stems from meetings this past May in which officials from the OSTP met with representatives of the Chinese government to discuss technology innovation and economic issues.

After reviewing the meetings at the behest of Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., the GAO “conclude[d] that OSTP’s use of appropriations to fund its participation in the Innovation Dialogue and the [economic issues] violated” a section of the Department of Defense appropriations bill that became law in April.

“The plain meaning of section 1340 is clear,” wrote GAO general counsel Lynn Gibson, adding that OSTP “contravened the appropriations restriction.” The GAO report provided the text of section 1340:

“None of the funds made available by this division may be used for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement, or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company unless such activities are specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of enactment of this division.”

Assistant Attorney General Virginia Seitz responded with memorandum in which she argued that section 1340 “is unconstitutional as applied to certain activities undertaken pursuant to the President’s constitutional authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States.”

Never mind the irony that one Obama’s lawyers is talking about something being unconstitutional right when Obama is talking about circumventing congress, the law, and the constitution, but it seems these geniuses feel that the law shouldn’t apply to them. If you work your way around the lawyerese here, it looks like the WH has yet another crisis to distract people with. Heh!

Solyndra update: WH doubled down.

The AP has this piece running today dealing with how the WH knew Solyndra was a disaster waiting to happen, and that when it happened, it was coming right around the 2012 election, too. While the AP article is not clear as to exactly when the WH figured out this company was a disaster waiting to happen – likely I feel, that because pointing out that they knew even before the loan was made, would be damning – it is clear that they knew Solyndra was in deep trouble before Obama went on stage in 2010 to tout them as the example of the success of the stimuluspatronage bill. Epic fail on both counts.

From an e-mail by WH budget official trying to red flag this disaster we get the following:

An email from a White House budget official to a co-worker discussed the likely effect of a default by Solyndra Inc. on President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

“The optics of a Solyndra default will be bad,” an official from the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a Jan. 31 email to a senior OMB official. “The timing will likely coincide with the 2012 campaign season heating up.”

You think? But it gets better! Why was the e-mail sent? Well lets read on.

The email, released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee as part of its investigation into a half-billion dollar federal loan to Solyndra, said the budget official wanted White House budget director Jacob Lew to warn Energy Secretary Steven Chu about the risk posed by Solyndra, which was once the poster child for the Obama administration’s clean energy program but by early this year was teetering on collapse.

At the time of the email, the Energy Department was pushing to release an additional $67 million to Solyndra. The Fremont, Calif.-based solar panel maker received a total of $528 million in federal loans before declaring bankruptcy Aug. 31 and laying off 1,100 workers.

They where considering if they should give Solyndra another $67 million of tax payer money. Was that money part of the original allocated half a billion dollars, or was that money on top of that? If the first, then the money was given despite the terrible news, and on can not help but speculate that considering what they knew, if it was done hoping to prevent or postpone the inevitable? If it was new money, we obviously where spared that pain.

We also again get validation that people knew Solyndra was in trouble, but that the WH dismissed them:

At least three reports by federal watchdogs over the past two years warned that the Energy Department had not fully developed the controls needed to manage the multibillion-dollar loan program.

Emails obtained by The Associated Press show that a White House official dismissed reports about Solyndra’s gloomy future. An email from Greg Nelson, a White House official who had been involved in the planning of Obama’s May 2010 trip to Solyndra’s headquarters, to a Solyndra executive downplayed a July 2010 news story in a trade publication that criticized the company’s financial health.

Seems B.S.,” Nelson wrote.

A 2009 report by the Energy Department’s inspector general warned that the DOE lacked the necessary quality control for the loan guarantee program, which was created in 2005 to support clean-energy projects that could not obtain conventional bank loans due to high risks.

In July 2010, the Government Accountability Office said the Energy Department had bypassed required steps for funding awards to five of 10 applicants that received conditional loan guarantees.

Can we now stop pretending that not only did the people in the WH get told Solyndra was a dead beat company, but that they also where warned that they had no mechanism to make sure Solyndra used the money wisely and that the DOE had bypassed required steps in the process by the GAO (that’s fast tracking if you have a problem with English comprehension), but that then politics and ideology trumped common sense, here?

And lest there be any doubt that this was ideology trumping everything else, there is this tidbit:

The report did not publicly identify the companies that were not properly vetted, but congressional investigators say one of them was Solyndra. The company was the first to receive a loan guarantee after the program was expanded under the 2009 stimulus law.

Solyndra was not the only one that had their application process not thoroughly vetted. There is a pattern here. How many of these “other companies” that are not identified by the AP article had similar problems as Solyndra but still got money? How many more Solyndra-like failures are there in the near or not-so-near future? Why where these companies fastracked in the first place? Was it either desperation to produce something with all that stimulus cash being thrown around, or was it because of the political/ideological belief that green industry was the solution to all our ills? Me, I bet it was a little bit of both. And it get’s better!

The Obama administration is moving to finalize as many as 15 loan guarantees for renewable-energy companies before the stimulus program ends on Sept. 30. Republicans question whether that could lead to more loans to companies that fail like Solyndra.

Time will tell. One thing is for sure: this is damaging to Obama, the progressives and the green movement in general, and most of all to the tax payer which foots the bill for these ideologues and their crusades against evil fossil feul in the progressive government controlled battle to pick who wins and who loses. And while I suspect no laws where broken, it is obvious that this will haunt Obama and the left in 2012.