September 26, 2011

Video: Solyndra Execs Take the Fifth

It’s not gripping TV, but it’s a legitimate news story.

As Brent Baker at NewsBusters noted on Sunday morning, despite the story’s legitimacy, “neither ABC nor NBC mentioned the development Friday night and CBS allocated a mere 25 seconds.” I’d have been okay with 25 seconds at each place, but the ABC-NBC non-coverage was inexcusable.

The counterargument will be that we all knew it was coming, but that’s too easy. The American people needed to see it. (They didn’t have a problem making time for Ollie North in Iran-Contra, did they?)

So consider the following a partial offset:

Key pulls:

(0:48) Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida: … only two months ago, Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison met with me in the committee offices. He looked me in the eye and assured me that everything was just fine, and the company was on track to be cash-flow positive. Mr. (Brian) Harrison told me and other members of this committee that Solyndra was continuing to make excellent progress, that it was meeting all its cost and performance milestones, and that revenues were projected to nearly double in 2011.

I was hoping that Mr. Harrison would testify today and explain to me and to this committee how he could make those representations in late July about Solyndra’s improving prospects when the company was on the path to bankruptcy just 30 days later.

It seems clear to me that Mr. Harrison knew or should have known in July that the company was going to restate its financial projections to reflect increasing market and pricing pressure on its product resulting in decreased revenue.

When the committee invited Mr. Harrison and Mr. Stover (W.G. Stover, Jr.) to testify at last week’s hearing, Solyndra’s counsel said that Mr. Harrison would appear voluntarily, and would answer the Committee’s questions. However, Solyndra’s counsel asked the committee to postpone their testimony by one week, claiming that Mr. Harrison and Mr. Stover were involved in active negotiations to potentially sell the company, and that an earlier sale might potentially result in a better recovery for the taxpayer at the company’s bankruptcy. I agreed to this request provided that Mr. Harrison appear this week and testify.

In return for postponing his testimony by one week, I was provided written assurance by Solyndra’s counsel that Mr. Harrison would answer the committee’s questions.

Unfortunately, we won’t get those answers today. Mr. Harrison’s and Mr. Stover’s counsel informed the committee three days ago that they would decline to answer the committee’s questions, and would invoke their rights under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. I respect the witnesses’ rights under the Fifth Amendment, but I want to make it clear today that this this subcommittee’s investigation will continue.

… (3:57) We are also determined to know why DOE allowed the taxpayers to be subordinated to the private investors during that restructuring in violation of the clear letter of the law.

The oath-taking and Fifth Amendment invocations begin at the 5:23 mark.

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