Solyndra LLC Chief Executive Officer Brian Harrison will decline to answer questions this week at the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigation hearing into the failure of the solar-panel manufacturer.
“Mr. Harrison intends to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in response to any questions asked by this subcommittee and will not provide testimony,” Walter Brown, a lawyer at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in San Francisco representing Harrison, wrote today to the investigations panel.
The letter, obtained today, cited the Sept. 8 FBI raid on Solyndra’s Fremont, California, offices and a Justice Department investigation into the company, which got about $527 million in U.S. loan guarantees from President Barack Obama’s administration. The company sought bankruptcy protection two days before the raid by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.
“Mr. Harrison regrets that these circumstances prevent him from offering full and complete answers to this subcommittee,” Brown wrote to Representatives Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican and chairman of the Energy committee’s investigation panel, and Diana DeGette of Colorado, the panel’s top Democrat.
Solyndra spokesman David Miller said Harrison and Chief Financial Officer W.G. Stover Jr. wouldn’t provide “substantive answers” to questions from the committee.
“The company is not aware of any wrongdoing by Solyndra officers, directors or employees” related to the Energy Department loan guarantees or other actions “and the company is cooperating fully” with the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco, Miller said in a statement.
“The record will establish that Solyndra carefully followed the rules of the competitive application process, starting in December 2006 under the Bush administration and continuing under the Obama administration,” he said.
Jan Nielsen Little, an attorney at Keker & Van Nest LLP in San Francisco representing Stover, said in a letter, “it would be irresponsible for anyone in his position” to testify before the House committee given the federal investigation.
Stearns said last week his panel let Harrison and Stover skip testifying at a Sept. 14 subcommittee hearing in hopes they would waive their rights against self-incrimination.
Energy committee Republicans released a report on Solyndra Sept. 14 that said aides to Obama pressed loan officials to accelerate their review in time to let U.S. officials announce the deal.
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