White House in Hot Spot over Solar Company Loan

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Questions are mounting about the Obama administration's ties to a collapsed solar energy company.

The company named Solyndra received a $535 million loan from the government and now it appears American taxpayers are footing the bill.

Congress is investigating the controversial loan and the company's possible links to the White House.

The loan to Solyndra was placed on the fast track for approval shortly after President Obama began his term. However, the company went bankrupt after it received the loan. More than 1,000 workers were laid off.

Congressional critics say the White House should have known Solyndra was a high risk.

"Why did the administration think that Solyndra was such a good bet?" asked Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich.

A House Energy and Commerce sub-committee held a hearing Wednesday to investigate the matter. The hearing came just one week after the FBI raided Solyndra's California offices.

Last year, Obama praised the company during his visit to its corporate headquarters. The government loan went forward even though several administration staffers expressed concerns about Solyndra.

"The deal is not ready for prime time," a White House budget analyst wrote in an email.

Vice President Joe Biden's chief of staff wrote, "If you guys think this is a bad idea, I need to unwind the West Wing quickly."

White House logs show Solyndra principal investor George Kaiser made at least four visits to the White House prior to loan approval.

"Solyndra appeared to be well-positioned to compete and succeed in the global marketplace," said Jonathan Silver, who was executive director of the loan office in 2009.

But critics say the company's business plan didn't add up. It cost Solyndra $6 per watt to produce its product, but it was sold for $3 per watt.

This was not the first time Solyndra appealed to the White House for a loan. The second Bush administration considered a request from the company.

It was rejected in early 2009 after the Department of Energy analysts found Solyndra would run out of money by this month.. 

The White House denies it received political pressure from Solyndra. For now, officials say the investigation will continue.

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