Oversight Committee Presses Energy Secretary on False Denials, Improper Use of Non-official Email Accounts in Solyndra Loan Program

Press Release

By:  Jim Jordan Darrell Issa Harold Gowdy III
Date: Aug. 15, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, along with Subcommittee Chairmen Jim Jordan and Trey Gowdy, asked Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to clarify apparently false testimony to Congress about efforts to conceal documents from investigators and White House involvement in the Department of Energy Loan Program that used taxpayer funds to support companies including Solyndra. The request comes after the Committee obtained documents from individual non-official e-mail accounts contradicting the testimony.

"Recently-obtained documents show DOE officials frequently used Yahoo! and Gmail to communicate about the loan guarantee program," Issa, Jordan, and Gowdy wrote to Chu. "This use of non-government e-mail accounts for official business may have violated the Presidential Records Act (PRA) and the Federal Records Act (FRA). The documents also show that testimony given to the Committee by current and former DOE officials, including you, was inaccurate, and may have been intentionally false."

Among the facts cited in the letter:

* Thousands of pages of official business in non-official accounts

The Committee has obtained thousands of documents related to official business from the non-official e-mail accounts of federal employees. These e-mails show DOE officials routinely using non-official accounts to conduct official business. Prior to the Committee's acquisition of these documents from individuals, the Department had not produced them.

* Deliberate Efforts to Conceal Documents from Investigators

Using a non-official e-mail account in the days immediately before Solyndra's bankruptcy became public, one DOE official wrote to another: "Don't ever send an email on doe email with private email addresses. That makes them subpoenable."

* Political Motives for White House Approving Loan Decisions

The head of DOE's loan program office in an e-mail to an aide of then Chief of Staff William Daley on why the White House should allow a loan guarantee to move forward: "Obama will look like a hero if we do this to a constituency that is now worried about him."

* Previously Undisclosed White House Contacts in Private E-mails

In testimony before the Oversight Committee, when asked whether the White House had ever inquired about specific companies seeking loan guarantees, Secretary Chu responded: "No, we did not."

Documents, however, show that Chu was personally involved in a White House request for a personal briefing of the President on the status of the loan program as well as a meeting with House Chief of Staff William Daley to resolve a dispute about the loan guarantee program between DOE and the President's top economic advisors in your favor.

The letter asks Chu to clarify inaccurate statements, produce relevant documents the Department continues to withhold relating to the loan program and to commit to testify before the Oversight Committee in September.