Solyndra executives had agreed to testify before the U.S. Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, but their lawyers have since advised them to plead the Fifth Amendment. Solyndra, a solar-panel manufacturer that received $535 million in stimulus funding, has filed for bankruptcy and is now under criminal investigation. The executives maintain their innocence: "The company is not aware of any wrongdoing by Solyndra officers, directors, or employees in conjunction with the DOE [Department of Energy] loan guarantee or otherwise..."
Two letters from the legal team explain why executives Brian Harrison (CEO) and Bill Stover (CFO) will not answer questions that may incriminate them during Congressional hearings on Friday.
In response, U.S. committee members expressed their dissatisfaction:
"Who exactly are Solyndra's executives trying to protect, and what are they trying to hide?
"Despite repeated assurances that they would testify voluntarily and answer questions this Friday, today we received the news that these executives – who had plenty to say to federal officials when securing half a billion dollars in taxpayer funding for their venture – plan to invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and will not answer questions from Congress."
- Compare the two legal letters for Solyndra executives. What minor differences do you see, and how do you account for these?
- How do you assess the U.S. committee chairmen's response to the news? What do you notice about the tone of their statement?
- Consider the politics involved in this situation. Who are the major players, and what is driving their actions?