On the defensive over a half-billion-dollar loan to a now-bankrupt solar company, the White House on Friday ordered an independent review of similar loans made by the Energy Department, its latest response to rising criticism over Solyndra Inc.
The announcement came as House Republicans prepared for a possible vote next week to subpoena White House documents related to the defunct California company.
White House officials said the review would assess the health of more than two dozen other renewable energy loans and loan guarantees made by the Energy Department program that supported Solyndra. Congressional Republicans have been investigating the company's bankruptcy amid embarrassing revelations that federal officials were warned it had problems but nonetheless continued to support it, and sent President Barack Obama to visit the company and praise it publicly.
...Daley said the review would be conducted by former Treasury official Herb Allison, who oversaw the Troubled Asset Relief Program, part of the 2008 Wall Street bailout. The review would not look at the Solyndra case but would evaluate other loans worth tens of billions of dollars and recommend steps to stabilize them if they appear to have problems like the loan to Solyndra.
...The White House has already refused a request by the Republican-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee for all its internal communications about Solyndra, which closed its doors and filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year, costing 1,100 jobs.
GOP Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan and Cliff Stearns of Florida said Friday a subpoena was necessary because the White House has denied its requests for documents. Upton chairs the Energy and Commerce panel, while Stearns leads a subcommittee on investigations. Recently released emails and other documents show that White House officials participated in decisions regarding the Solyndra loan.
"What is the White House trying to hide from the American public?" Stearns and Upton asked in a joint statement. "It is alarming for the Obama White House to cast aside its vows of transparency and block Congress from learning more about the roles that those in the White House and other members of the administration played in the Solyndra mess."
...The Obama administration has released thousands of emails — but withheld thousands more — concerning the $528 million loan... The White House also has said it would not release Obama's BlackBerry messages — which if released would be a presidential first.
Any subpoena of White House records could trigger a claim of executive privilege by the Obama administration and elevate the political stakes, although the issue could also be resolved through negotiations.
Gee. A constitutional crisis? Involving the Obama administration?
Over a few billion of the taxpayers' dough that ended up in Democrat backers' pockets?
The White House may claim "executive privilege", but as Chief Justice Warren Burger aptly put it, executive privilege would most effectively apply when the oversight of the executive would impair that branch's national security concern.
And last I checked, Solyndra wasn't exactly a national security concern.
Related: Your Handy Dandy EnergyGate Cheat Sheet.