In light of allegations of inappropriate dealings between the White House and failed energy company Solyndra and wireless start-up LightSquared, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said Tuesday that his committee plans to investigate government loans programs to private comapnies, The Hill reported.
I want to see when the president and his cronies are picking winners and losers ... it wasn't because there were large contributions given to them, the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee said Tuesday morning on C-SPAN.
The committee will be looking to see if members of Congress or White House staff improperly chose companies eligible for subsidized government loans based on their ability to give campaign donations, Issa said.
Criticism by Republicans, who allege that the Obama administration exerted improper influence to the aid of both companies, has left Obama defending himself.
Earlier this month, Solyndra unexpectedly filed for bankruptcy, coming as a surprise to both employees and the Obama administration, which had secured $535 million in low-interest loans for the company.
Solyndra's sudden collapse has left Republicans and conservatives alike placing the blame squarely on the Obama administration's shoulders, saying it is the one to blame for Solyndra's loan approval.
An Accusation of Crony Capitalism in White House
Solyndra's downfall puts a spot light on the kind of taxpayer-funded cronyism this White House said it would eliminate, said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus in a statement last week. After bundling tens of thousands of dollars for President Obama and his campaign, company officials were granted at least 20 visits to the White House and had Energy Department officials sitting in on company board meetings. Before taxpayers are forced to spend another dime of stimulus money, the White House must explain why they were so reckless the first time around.
House Republicans also say they have e-mails showing the White House pressuring Department of Energy professionals to expedite the loan approvals, although the White House has argued that nothing improper happened.
According to The Hill, Republicans have also said the White House pressured an Air Force general to revise testimony before a closed congressional hearing to aid LightSquared. Apparently, e-mails between the company and the White House mention that the company's CEO would be attending Democratic fundraisers in Washington; administration officials reportedly met with executives from the company the same day CEO Sanjiv Ahuga wrote a $30,400 check to the Democratic National Committee.
Company, White House Deny Influence-Peddling
Both the company and White House have denied any influence-peddling. And while Issa did not accuse the White House of wrongdoing, he suggested that government loan programs tempt corruption.
This is another reason that crony capitalism ... is dangerous, because they're going to pick winners that they ideologically, or in some cases because they support their candidacy, want to see win, Issa said.
The congressman also said that he does not want to limit the investigation to the Obama administration and the companies, but rather expand it to see whether congressmen were also exerting influence on the bureaucracy.
We see that as a backdoor, easy way to end up with corruption in the government, Issa said.