Rep. Joe Barton (R-Ennis/Arlington), Chairman Emeritus and senior Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, delivered the following opening statement Friday at the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee entitled "From DOE Loan Guarantee to Bankruptcy to FBI Raid: What Solyndra's Executives Knew." Even though the company's leaders chose to invoke their 5th Amendment right, Rep. Barton asked some pointed questions about what happened to the taxpayers' $500 million that was loaned to Solyndra. (Click here to watch video of questions.)
"Thank you Mr. Chairman.
"Let me set the scene for you: it's a sunny afternoon in Northern California, which should be a good day for a solar energy company. Especially a solar energy company that received a government guaranteed loan of over $530 million dollars. A solar energy company that was paid a visit by the President of the United States. A solar energy company that President Obama called "the true engine of economic growth" and touted as a green energy success story, a stimulus spending success story, a job-creating success story.
"As it turns out, that day was not a good day for that company. Instead that company declared bankruptcy, closed its doors, and laid off over a thousand employees. The next week, the FBI knocked down the company's door.
"Well, the outlook for this company, Solyndra, is not any brighter today. Now, this company has Chairman Stearns, Chairman Upton and this Committee knocking on its door and we are just as tough as the FBI.
"The two gentlemen who sit before this Committee today are the CEO and CFO of Solyndra. And despite making a deal with this Committee to delay the date of this hearing with the promise to answer our questions, they have indicated that they are not willing to uphold their end of the bargain. I understand that these men plan to assert their 5th Amendment right and refuse to answer our questions because the answers may be incriminating. However, it is my intention to ask them questions that I know my constituents and the American people want the answers to.
"I want to ask these gentlemen if it is true that the former CEO and other investors of Solyndra met frequently with the White House? I don't understand why they can not answer that question unless they feel that these meetings somehow could be incriminating. I want to ask these gentlemen if they were telling the truth to me and other members of this Committee when they visited us this spring and told us that the company was a good investment, remained strong, and was leading the way in solar energy? I don't understand why they can't answer that question unless they feel that the truth could somehow be incriminating.
"The truth is that after reviewing the documents, this Committee has discovered some of the mischievous dealings by these Solyndra executives, Department of Energy representatives, personnel at the Office of Management and Budget, and staff at the White House itself. The facts illustrate that this was a bad bet, a bad deal, and now a failed enterprise financed on the backs of honest taxpayers who will not be repaid. This is just the beginning of this investigation, and I support the Committee's ongoing efforts to get to the bottom of what is going on at the Department of Energy under this Administration."