Two executives from the bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra will invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to answer questions at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Friday, The Washington Post reports.
Solyndra received a $535 million federal loan guarantee in 2009, but the company abruptly shut down in August, leaving taxpayers liable for the loan. Republicans have raised questions about whether the White House rushed the loan guarantee in order to promote the stimulus to the public.
From the Post:
Lawyers for Solyndra chief executive Brian Harrison and chief financial officer W.G. “Bill” Stover cited the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of the company and the FBI’s raid of Solyndra offices in California, saying that they advised their clients not to answer questions from House lawmakers at a hearing on Friday.
“I have advised Mr. Harrison that he should decline to answer questions put to him by this subcommittee based on his rights under the Fifth Amendment,” Harrison’s attorney, Walter F. Brown Jr., said in a letter to committee members obtained by The Los Angeles Times. “This is not a decision arrived at lightly, but it is a decision dictated by current circumstances.”
“Under these circumstances, Mr. Stover must invoke his rights under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” Stover’s attorney, Jan Nielsen Little, said in a separate letter to the committee. “It would be irresponsible for anyone in his position not to do so.”
Agents with the FBI and Energy Department’s inspector general raided Solyndra’s headquarters in Fremont, California on September 8, two days after the company declared bankruptcy.
Last week, Republican staff members on the House Energy and Commerce Committee released White House emails that they argued “raise questions as to whether the Solyndra loan guarantee was pushed to approval before it was ready in order for the Administration to highlight the stimulus, and whether additional time might have resulted in stronger mitigation of the risks presented by the deal.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters last week that what the emails show is just that “there was urgency to make a decision on a scheduling matter.”