Rahm's name comes up in growing controversy

October 7, 2011 (CHICAGO)

That is the California solar panel company that was fast-tracked $500 million in taxpayer loans and is bankrupt.

In this Intelligence Report: The Solyndra e-mails and then-White House chief of staff Emanuel.

How Solyndra managed to get a $500 million federal loan and then go broke is under investigation by a congressional committee. And now there are fresh questions about then-presidential chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and what he knew about the Obama administration's hard push in 2009 for Solyndra to get the money.

The e-mails reveal an administration intent on obtaining funds for Solyndra and the hope that it would then symbolize job creation.

Solyndra was the first clean energy firm that the Obama administration backed, with a government loan worth more than a half-billion dollars.

According to e-mails released Friday, a former Obama fundraiser who worked on the loan guarantee program was more actively involved in Solyndra's financing than administration officials have acknowledged.

And e-mails from White House staffers connected to then-chief of staff Emanuel note that Emanuel definitely wanted the president to do the Solyndra project.

Another Emanuel staffer questioned Solyndra's financial status, but the deal went through anyway.

Mayor Emanuel has been below the radar on this burgeoning Washington controversy. The only apparent public response when he went on WLS radio last month and suggested he didn't recall the Obama administration loan to Solyndra.

"I don't actually remember that or know about it," Emanuel said.

If warning signs of doom at Solyndra were overlooked, according to the newly released memos, White House officials say it had nothing to with the firm's ties to both political parties.

Solyndra was raided by the FBI in August, shortly after filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

As soon as the story broke Friday afternoon of these new Solyndra e-mails, the I-Team requested a response from Mayor Emanuel's office. So far there has been no statement.

The Washington Post quoted Obama administration officials Friday as saying that Emanuel was always interested in how to showcase White House efforts to create jobs with stimulus funds. One e-mail from a top Emanuel aide back then asked for a list of Solyndra's major investors--presumably for Emanuel.

Copyright © 2024 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.