WASHINGTON -- Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), chair of the House subcommittee that's leading the probe into the federal government's loan guarantee to Solyndra Inc., has called for the Energy Department’s top loan official to be fired.
The remarks come just a day after Jonathan Silver, executive director of DOE’s loan programs office, testified before the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations regarding the approval of a federal loan guarantee to the California-based solar company for more than half a billion dollars.
"Mr. Silver is of course the top loan officer in the Department of Energy, and I think he should be fired," Stearns said in a Thursday interview with the Fox Business Network.
At the Wednesday hearing, Silver said he wasn't under pressure from the Obama administration to approve Solyndra's financing, insisting approval of Solyndra's federal loan guarantee was based entirely on merit.
Solyndra, which laid off 1,100 workers and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August after receiving a $535 million federal loan guarantee from the U.S. government in Sept. 2009, has become a central talking point for House Republicans attacking the president's clean energy policies, with many seeking to place blame for the approval of a loan guarantee to Solyndra -- just two years before it filing for bankruptcy -- squarely on the shoulders of the Obama administration.
"The problem is with these scandals no one gets fired and they’re all covered up," said Stearns, who heads the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. "I don’t want to see that happen. I think the taxpayers losing half a billion dollars is significant."
Stearns assertion that Silver should be fired comes after days of reiterating that somebody in the administration needs to take responsibility for the Solyndra debacle.
"In the end someone should be fired because of this," Stearns said in a Tuesday interview with the Fox Business Network. "Half a billion dollars is an enormous amount of money. Eleven hundred people got laid off, and there’s criminality here. Someone has to step up and be fired."
The extent to which Silver or the Obama administration can be blamed for the Solyndra debacle is questionable. As Silver noted in his testimony, the Energy Department during the Bush administration rejected more than 100 other applications while inviting Solyndra and 15 other companies to continue their applications, and the Obama administration ultimately approved the Solyndra loan guarantee on “the exact schedule that had been developed during the Bush administration.”