Federal Politics

Published — October 11, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

FACT CHECK: Did Rep. Darrell Issa run ‘political interference?’

Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace suggests Rep. Issa may have advocated for a Solyndra-like green company

Introduction

Rep. Darrell Issa, who has accused the administration of “political interference” to benefit a solar energy company, has falsely claimed that a letter he wrote to the Energy Department on behalf of a California car maker merely requested a decision — “yes or no” — on the company’s loan application. In fact, the California Republican wrote to “express support” for the company’s loan to develop an electric car. He wrote that approval of the loan would “greatly assist a leading developer of electric vehicles in my district” and “promote domestic job creation throughout California as well as in other states.”

Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is leading the congressional investigation of the Department of Energy’s decision to provide a $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, a now-defunct California solar company. We wrote about Solyndra last week. Issa appeared Oct. 9 on “Fox News Sunday,” telling host Chris Wallace that “Solyndra is a story of political interference.” Wallace asked about letters Issa wrote to the Energy Department on behalf of companies seeking government loans — specifically one on behalf of Aptera Motors Inc., which is within Issa’s district.

Wallace: “You are saying — you were saying in the case of Aptera, which is one of the companies, you’re saying to the federal Energy Department, ‘Give them a federal loan guarantee.’ “

Issa: “Not give them a loan guarantee. Our letter actually recognized, and by the way, their loan has never processed. It expired without them getting it. What we were…”

Wallace: “I’m not saying you were successful. I’m just saying you tried.”

Issa: “But the request was, they have a loan application and would you please give them a yes or no — and that’s a big difference. A lot of loans went in and these people spent money processing and they never heard.”

In the case of Aptera, Issa did not merely ask the Energy Department to “please give them a yes or no.” On Sept. 21, Bloomberg News wrote that Issa urged approval of the loan, and the Washington Post published a copy of the letter.

Issa, Jan. 14, 2010: I write to express my support of Aptera Motors’ application for a loan under the Department of Energy’s 136 Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program (ATVMIP). Funding will allow Aptera to establish U.S. manufacturing facilities for the commercial production of its plug-in and hybrid electric cars. … Awarding this opportunity to Aptera Motors will greatly assist a leading developer of electric vehicles in my district. …

Aptera’s project will also promote domestic job creation throughout California as well as in other states. …

I urge you to give Aptera Motors’ Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program funding application full consideration.

A day after those stories appeared, Issa chaired a committee hearing titled, “How Obama’s Green Energy Agenda is Killing Jobs.” At the hearing, Rep. John Tierney, a Massachusetts Democrat, quoted from Issa’s letter.

Tierney, Sept. 22, 2011: I noticed that our chairman, Mr. Issa, who talks about this being a job killer and backdoor corruption, himself wrote a letter to the secretary of the department. I’ll just quote from the first part. “I write to express my support of Aptera Motors’ application for a loan under the Department of Energy’s 136 Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program (ATVMIP).” Later on there he says, “Aptera’s project will also promote domestic job creation.”

Issa did not respond to Tierney’s comment. We sent an email to Issa’s spokesman, but Columbus Day is a federal holiday and we did not hear back. If we do, we will update this item.

– Eugene Kiely

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