“Apparently our application has been caught up with several other groups who were also wanting a second bite at the DOE loan guarantee apple,” Mitchell wrote in a March 5, 2010, email. Silver “did not say that we are the first one that will be considered but he all but did,” Levit wrote.
Kaiser responded in an email later that day. “Sounds good. ... BTW, a couple weeks ago when Ken and I were visiting with a group of Administration folks in DC who are in charge of the Stimulus process (White House, not DOE) and Solyndra came up, every one of them responded simultaneously about their thorough knowledge of the Solyndra story, suggesting it was one of their prime poster children,” he wrote.
About three hours after the Energy and Commerce Republicans released the emails, Democrats on the panel responded with a 10-page letter revealing more Kaiser communications.
Besides documenting Kaiser’s dinner with the president, they show a series of instances of Kaiser appearing uncomfortable about leveraging his political influence for Solyndra’s gain.
The emails also give greater context to discussions about whether to intervene more directly with the White House about Solyndra matters before the Energy Department in 2010.
Mitchell wrote to Kaiser on Oct. 6, 2010, that “the consensus is that a meeting with the new White House Chief of Staff is the best avenue to approach the administration for support on the DOE front and for assistance in securing any type of procurement commitments [from] the government or the military.”
“I question the assumption that WH is the path to pursue when both of your issues are with DOE. I doubt [White House officials] would intervene and, if they did, I am concerned that DOE/Chu would resent the intervention and your problem could get more difficult,” Kaiser wrote the same day in an email, referring to Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
Mitchell responded the same day. “Understood,” he wrote. “The WH meeting is more about assistance in selling panels to the government than it is about getting the DOE loan revised. The WH has offered to help in the past and we do have a contact within the WH that we are working with. I think the company is hoping that we have some unnatural relationship that can open bigger doors — I’ve cautioned them that no one really has those relationships anymore.”
Levit agreed with Kaiser, saying, “It’s really quite hard to engineer an ask like that to the WH Chief of Staff from [the George Kaiser Family Foundation] or [Kaiser]. Our relationship is based on completely different issues. George may feel differently but I think it’s real tricky.”
Levit called the potential lobbying by Kaiser “totally inappropriate” in another email.
Jason Martin, a Kaiser operative, viewed the matter differently and pointed to the urgency of Solyndra’s financial situation.
“If you really want to get practical ... without DOE flexibility on loan terms, we will lose $400MM,” he said. “Are we expecting our conversations with the WH on our charitable initiatives to yield $400MM cash? If not we need to change the conversation with them right now.”