WASHINGTON -- Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Tuesday he will launch a "broad" investigation into government loan programs that benefit private companies in response to the collapse of Solyndra Inc., the politically connected solar company that secured $535 million in low-interest federal loans in 2009.
"There's been this attitude that government can weigh in with loan guarantees and money and pick winners, specific company winners, and losers," said Issa in a Tuesday interview on C-SPAN. "We see that as a backdoor easy way to end up with corruption in government."
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman said his panel will also investigate information pertaining to LightSquared to determine whether the wireless start-up company received any improper favors from the Obama administration or the FCC when it first created a broadband network.
But the larger question, Issa said during the C-SPAN interview, is whether it's ever proper for lawmakers to select private companies for federal subsidy when those very companies may be in a position to contribute donations to their campaigns:
This is another reason that crony capitalism, that getting involved in government using its power to pick winning companies in a capitalist system is dangerous because they're going to pick winners that ideologically -- or in some cases because they support their candidacy. We are investigating but we're looking at it not for one company or two companies, we're looking at the system, the corruption that seems to be endemic ideologically in both picking winners but also the possibility that this is an unfixable program that you can't have politicians, people who have quite frankly the need to raise money to win election or the people that work for them -- you can't have them selecting winners and losers.
Issa's announcement comes on the heels of House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith's call to appoint an outside investigator to probe whether the Obama administration had political motivations when it approved its loan to Solyndra.
The White House has been defending itself against critics such as Smith -- who contended on Monday that an outside lawyer is needed to “uncover the truth about whether politics played a role in influencing the Obama administration to favor Solyndra" -- saying that all technology ventures come with some level of risk.
But Republicans seem intent on playing the Solyndra card for all that it's worth, scheduling high-profile hearings and leaking information to the press in advance.
"We've agreed to look at this broad scandal," said Issa, adding the he would investigate the details of the Solyndra loan approval process "differently" then the Energy and Commence Committee. "We are looking and realizing that ... you clearly have people who saw a link between their campaign contributions, their ideological bent and these companies."
Solyndra executives plan to appear before Friday’s House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing but they are expected to invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and decline to answer questions.
WATCH Issa's remarks below:
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