Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday refused to comment on a newly released e-mail which again suggests he was involved in the White House decision to promote a $535 million federal loan to Solyndra LLC, a California solar energy equipment company that subsequently went bankrupt.
Previously, the mayor said he couldn't remember what part he played in decisions about Solyndra, despite publicized e-mails among White House staffers that indicated he wanted President Barack Obama to be involved in an event at the company in 2009, when he was the president’s chief of staff.
But when asked Friday about an additional 2009 e-mail released this week that has an aide saying Emanuel wanted the president to be involved in Solyndra, the mayor took a new tack.
“It's simple. You just talk to the White House counsel,” Emanuel said. “They're answering all the questions. And they'll answer any questions you have on the matter.”
The White House communications office released a statement that did not specifically address questions about Emanuel's involvement.In this presidential election year, Republicanscontinually have pointed to Solyndra as a major failing of the Obama administration and have raised questions about whether federal money was wasted despite warnings signs that the company faced financial problems.
The Republican-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee this week released a report on Solyndra that is critical of the Obama administration's handling of loans to the company, which went under last year.
The report says the administration approved lending additional money to Solyndra despite indications it would fail anyway. Taxpayers will recover little of the $535 million loan in the wake of Solyndra's bankruptcy.
Included in the committee report is an August 2009 e-mail from an Emanuel aide about a Solyndra loan closing announcement that says, “POTUS involvement was Rahm's idea.” POTUS is an acronym for President of the United States.
Vice President Joseph Biden participated in a video teleconference that was aired at Solyndra in September 2009. Obama visited the company in person in May 2010.
Emanuel, speaking at a West Side education event, ended his news conference Friday when asked a follow-up question on the topic. After talking about progress he said his administration has made on education, jobs and the housing market, the mayor told reporters: “I'll leave Solyndra to you. I'm going to focus on the children of the city of Chicago.”
Last September, Emanuel told reporters he couldn’t remember what his role was in the decision to make the loan to Solyndra. In December, Emanuel said he doesn’t “spend my time thinking about what happened maybe two years ago.”