On Solyndra: President's Blackberry Off Limits
October 14th, 2011
06:46 PM ET
3 years ago

On Solyndra: President's Blackberry Off Limits

Washington (CNN) - Congress isn't getting a glimpse of what's on President Barack Obama's Blackberry - or any more internal White House communications related to the bankrupt solar company Solyndra, which received a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government.

House Republicans investigating the loan controversy had requested all internal White House documents about the issue. House Energy and Commerce subcommittee chair Rep. Cliff Stearns said that includes emails on the President's Blackberry.

On Friday the White House Counsel sent a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee explaining they won't comply with the request because it "implicates longstanding and significant institutional Executive Branch confidentiality interests."

The response is hardly a surprise given past administrations' refusal to comply with similar congressional requests. The difference here? President Obama is the first Chief Executive to carry a Blackberry, so it's the first time a White House counsel has - even indirectly - turned down an attempt to peek at his email. Neither the Blackberry nor his personal email is explicitly mentioned in the letter.

On October 5, Republican Chairmen Fred Upton and Cliff Stearns requested "all communications among White House staff and officials related to the $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra" because they believed "the White House was closely involved in the monitoring of the Solyndra loan guarantee after it was issued."

They said these documents are necessary "to better understand the involvement of the White house in the review of the Solyndra loan guarantee and the Administration's support of this guarantee.'

In her letter Friday, White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler said, "the three federal agencies most directly involved in the Solyndra loan guarantee, the Department of Energy, the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of the Treasury, are all cooperating with the Committee's investigation into the Solyndra loan guarantee.”

Together she says the three agencies have turned over 70,000 pages of documents and are continuing to do so "on a rolling basis.” The letter states the White House has turned over another 900 pages related to communications between the White House and Solyndra, its representatives and investors. She offers to cooperate further with the investigators.

CNN has attempted to reach the Chairs of the Energy and Commerce Committee for comment. Expect some kind of political fallout.

Solyndra is a California solar panel manufacturer that had received $535 million in federal loan guarantees before it was forced to halt operations and file for bankruptcy at the end of August, putting more than 1,000 workers out of work.

Before its failure, the company had been touted as an example of the benefits of creating green jobs by the Obama administration. But since then, it has become the center of congressional criticism and a probe by the FBI.

Brian Harrison, the CEO of Solyndra, resigned Wednesday amidst the scandal.


Filed under: Energy • White House
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. GOP = Greed Over People

    Good for you Mr. President!

    Remind the GOP that it is called "executive privilege: and you do not have to do anything they request.

    After all, the shrub is the one that sit the precedent.

    Maybe the GOP will learn to be careful, what laws they decide to keep and which to ignore in the future!

    Don't forget your office get to ignore any Congressional subpoenas as an added perk!

    If you do show up, remember, every answer is "I do not remember"!

    October 14, 2011 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  2. fred ca

    Hey kathryn ruemmler...my guess is your parents are proud. Their main worry was that you would wind up in a trailer park wearing electra blue spandex. Instead you wound up in the white house...wearing electra blue spandex.

    October 14, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  3. Ben

    How's that new "transparency" in the White House working out?

    October 14, 2011 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  4. Lizzie

    What are they afraid of.

    October 14, 2011 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  5. racewalker45

    So, let me get this straight. Over half a billion dollars of tax payer money has been poured into the black hole that is Solyndra and we can't see the documents related to this debacle? What exactly is the White House trying to protect?

    October 14, 2011 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  6. daveindenver

    Transparency? I think this is what the Occupy Wall Street protesters are complaining about.

    October 14, 2011 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  7. T'sah from Virginia

    Well I hope all of this is true and the documents are confidential. I still believe this is all about NOTHING!!!

    Obama/Biden 2012

    October 14, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  8. Terry, VA

    Keep stonewalling Obummie. Your cover ups are worse than the ignornat decision to give the loan in the first place. This is great campaign ammo for the Repubs along with Fast and Furious Americans are seeing you anything but transparent and NOW KNOW you are a LIAR.

    October 14, 2011 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  9. John

    This is the most transparent administration EVAH!!

    October 14, 2011 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  10. Mike guthrie

    Indict, convict, incarcerate. Justice.

    October 14, 2011 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  11. Mike guthrie

    The Wall Street Occupation is predictably silent. Predictable hypocrisy from The Progressives. Nothing new in the progressive movement.

    October 14, 2011 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  12. Solyndrous

    Could you photoshop that photo so that his chin is raised a little bit more? I don't think he looks imperious enough.

    This joker deserves to go down, and for history to very very quickly catch up with him after he leaves Washington with his tail between his legs. Worst president ever.

    I want him to last through election night, though, so we can all see him concede, at about 9 p.m,. eastern.

    October 14, 2011 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  13. Tim M

    The most transparent administration in history....chalk up one more lie.

    October 14, 2011 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  14. mcgil38

    Me thinks we've got another Whitewater here!

    October 14, 2011 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  15. Smith_comma_John

    Nice TRANSPARENT GOVERNMENT there Barry.

    October 14, 2011 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  16. Sanity

    So, Richard Nixon is back in the White House.

    October 14, 2011 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  17. Impeach Him

    Impeach him. He lied to congress. That's a felony.

    October 14, 2011 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  18. jeradf

    If you have ever seen the movie Boomerang ( Eddie Murphy) you can see that this crap has been happening pretty much forever. We need to get big business out of the pockets of our leaders. The majority of people see government as a corrupt fraternity that is fueled by their own self interests. I see no fix in the near future, no matter who we put in the office it seems to be the norm to make money where you can. damn the man and the broke system we have not working !!!

    October 14, 2011 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |