Advocacy Group Sues Obama Administration Over Solyndra Documents

Judicial Watch Inc., a Washington- based advocacy group, sued the Obama Administration seeking documents related to a $535 million federal loan guarantee for failed solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra LLC.

The group filed two complaints today in federal court in Washington, claiming the Department of Energy and the Office of Management and Budget are “unlawfully withholding” records that the group said should be released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Judicial Watch seeks data including communications between agency officials related to Solyndra, and between federal officials and Solyndra employees or employees of investors Argonaut Private Equity LLC, Madrone Capital Partners LLC, U.S. Venture Partners LLC and Rockport Capital Partners LLC.

“The American people are set to lose $535 million and want to know why it happened,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said in an e-mailed statement.

Solyndra, based in Fremont, California, filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 6, two years after receiving the Energy Department’s first loan guarantee.

Kenneth Baer, an OMB spokesman, said the agency hasn’t been served with a complaint. In an interview, Baer said OMB received Judicial Watch’s document request and that the agency has been “working diligently” to respond. Baer said the agency has produced more than 10,000 pages of documents for members of Congress. Damien LaVera, an Energy Department spokesman, said the department has turned over more than 180,000 pages of documents to congressional investigators.

“The department has consistently demonstrated our commitment to being fully open and transparent since the beginning of this investigation,” LaVera said, declining to comment on the lawsuit.

The cases are Judicial Watch Inc. v. U.S. Department of Energy, 11-02140, and Judicial Watch Inc. v. Office of Management and Budget, 11-02141, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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