Friday, November 4, 2011

White House Responds to Committee Subpoenas for Solyndra Docs

The White House responded today to subpoenas issued by the House Energy and Commerce Committee for documents related to Solyndra, saying that the subpoenas are too broad and fail to balance the interests of the executive branch with the legitimate oversight interests of the Committee.  We posted most recently here.

The Committee, on a party-line vote, approved the subpoenas on Thursday; it then delivered separate subpoenas to Bill Daley and to Bruce Reed.  The subpoenas seek identical information:

All documents referring or relating in any way to the $535 million loan guarantee issued to Solyndra, Inc., by the Department of Energy . . . .

The White House wrote back that this is just too broad a request:

[T]he Committee's extremely broad request for documents--now a subpoena--is a significant intrusion on Executive Branch interests, particularly given that you have not made any effort to tailor the request to the legitimate interests of the Committee.  As written, it encompasses all communications within the White House from the beginning of this Administration to the present that refer to or relate to Solyndra, and the subpoena purports to demand a complete response in less than a week.  Thus, any document that references Solyndra, even in passing, is arguably responsive to the Committee's request, and you reaffirmed this week that you intend for the request to be that broad.  There is no basis for such a broad request beyond a "vast fishing expedition," as Congressman Dingell noted yesterday.  Moreover, responding to such an expansive request would require the devotion of substantial resources to gather and review many documents that are of no legitimate oversight interest--which is itself an unreasonable burden on the President's ability to meet his constitutional duties.  For example, we do not understand how thousands of pages of news clips--all of which are responsive to the subpoena you issued--relate to the Committee's inquiry.

In past correspondence and again in our meeting this week, we suggested that the Committee focus first on communications between the White House and those agencies directly involved in the Solyndra loan guarantee. . . . The Committee has rejected that approach without any justification other than a general curiosity about internal White House communications.  Such curiosity is not a sufficient justification for encroaching on longstanding and important Executive Branch confidentiality interests, particularly when none of the more than 85,000 pages of documents produced to date evidence any favoritism to political supporters or wrongdoing by the White House.

The ball's now back in the Committee's court.


Congressional Authority, Executive Authority, Executive Privilege, News, Separation of Powers | Permalink

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