You are hereWashington Post: Democrats see political motives in Solyndra subpoenas of federal workers

Washington Post: Democrats see political motives in Solyndra subpoenas of federal workers

-By Carol D. Leonnig

September 11, 2012- Ten Energy Department workers were subpoenaed for their private e-mails late last week as part of a congressional probe of a controversial Obama administration clean energy loan program, and five were served at their offices by a federal marshal.

The move came a month after a House oversight committee released e-mails showing that staffers and contractors frequently discussed federal loans to private energy companies in private e-mails. In one exchange, the head of the loan program warned a staffer how to avoid having private e-mail discussions subpoenaed.

The panel’s ranking Democrat, however, has accused Republicans of trying to intimidate federal workers.

The Obama administration’s clean energy program, including the failure of its showcase firm, Solyndra, has spilled over into the presidential race. GOP challenger Mitt Romney has said that the program is rife with “crony capitalism” and invests taxpayer dollars in companies that helped Obama’s political allies but not middle-class workers.

The White House has said that all loans were awarded based on the merits of the project, not the company’s political connections.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), on Thursday issued subpoenas for 10 people at the Energy Department’s loan program.

But Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the panel’s ranking Democrat, said, “There was absolutely no reason for this type of intimidation since the department would have accepted the subpoenas by e-mail, as it has done routinely in the past, including with our committee.

“The subpoenas issued last week were particularly unnecessary and unwarranted given that the committee has identified no evidence of improper political favoritism in the department’s loan guarantee program,” Cummings said.