White House pressed on $500 million loan to solar company now under investigation

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The Obama White House tried to rush federal reviewers for a decision on a nearly half-billion-dollar loan to the solar panel manufacturer Solyndra so Vice President Biden could announce the approval at a September 2009 groundbreaking for the company’s new factory, newly obtained e-mails show.

The Silicon Valley company, a centerpiece in President Obama’s initiative to develop clean technologies, had been tentatively approved for the loan by the Energy Department but was awaiting a final financial review by the Office of Management and Budget.

The August 2009 e-mails, released toThe Washington Post, show White House officials repeatedly asking OMB reviewers when they would be able to decide on the federal loan and noting a looming press event at which they planned to announce the deal. In response, OMB officials expressed concern that they were being rushed to approve the company’s project without adequate time to assess the risk to taxpayers, according to the e-mails, which were provided by Republican congressional investigators.

Solyndra collapsed two weeks ago, leaving taxpayers liable for the $535 million loan.

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