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White House involvement in loans detailed

Aug. 9, 2012 at 2:01 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Newly released e-mails offer details about the involvement of the White House in a loan program to help clean-energy companies, officials said Thursday.

Documents provided by investigators for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee show White House aides asked U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu to brief President Obama on the status of the program on June 27, 2011, two months before the collapse of the Solyndra solar energy company, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Solyndra received a $527 million federal loan from the program before closing in August 2011. The FBI later raided its offices as part of a criminal investigation into the company's finances, and whether it misled the government, the newspaper said.

The loan program has become an issue in the current presidential campaign, Republicans charging it wasted stimulus money meant to create jobs, and benefited Democratic fundraisers like Solyndra investor George Kaiser, an Obama donor.

At the time of the President's request for a briefing, then-White House Chief of Staff William Daley resolved a dispute among administration officials over whether a $1.4 billion loan to Project Amp, which proposed to use Solyndra as a solar panel subcontractor, was consistent with the stimulus act. Daley's action cleared the way for the loan to proceed, the newspaper said.

Administration officials said Wednesday the e-mails demonstrate White House involvement was appropriate and that there was no pressure on Energy Department officials, but Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and other Republican members of the House wrote to Obama requesting a "full and complete" explanation of his participation in the matter.

"The American people have a right to know the level of involvement you and other senior White House officials had in the loan guarantee," the letter reads in part.

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