The controversy over a $535 million loan guarantee to the now-bankrupt California solar firm Solyndra is threatening to dim the star of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a physicist and Nobel Prize winner who has rarely been thrust into the political spotlight.But Chu is an esteemed Nobel Prize winner, so expect him to have complete memory loss if he even bothers to show up to testify. Don't expect his boss to fire him since that would reflect poorly on his judgment.
Republican lawmakers have set their sites on Chu, who for three years has managed to avoid being dragged into a litany of political battles waged by Republicans and the White House on energy and environmental issues.
The GOP has for weeks lobbed a slew of allegations at the administration, arguing officials rushed a final decision on the loan guarantee and missed a series of red flags that hinted at the company’s financial troubles. Solyndra declared bankruptcy two years after receiving the Energy Department loan, resulting in layoffs for 1,100 workers.
Now, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are increasingly turning their attention to the role that Chu played in overseeing the loan guarantee program.
The ongoing fight over Solyndra could put Chu, who is not known as a political brawler, in uncharted waters.
Republicans are pointing to a recent Los Angeles Times story that says Chu disagreed with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and others when they raised concerns about the loan guarantee program during a meeting last October.
“We need to hear from Secretary Chu and [White House Office of Management and Budget Director Jack] Lew to fill in some of the blanks,” Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), who sits on the Energy panel’s investigative subcommittee, told The Hill in a phone interview Wednesday. “The buck has to stop someplace and presumably it stops with the heads of those agencies.”
Just keep handing away billions to to solar scams and move along, Barack. The people love you or something.