Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison and CFO Bill Stover have decided not to answer any questions during an upcoming hearing on Friday and plan to invoke the Fifth Amendment in the face of questioning, the company announced late on Tuesday. If you watched the grilling that Department of Energy Loan Chief Jonathan Silver, and the Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jeffrey Zients received last week, you’ll remember that a lot of the Representatives on the Committee don’t really let the witnesses answer many questions directly anyway, and the hearings often veer into rhetorical questions and speeches.
However, the execs’ decision not to answer questions won’t do anything to quiet the negative press and political storyline that has started to spin out of control about the company, which went bankrupt earlier this month and took down with it a $535 million loan from the government. The House Republicans had invited the Solyndra execs to testify last week, and they had declined saying they would voluntarily testify this week.
But now, on the advice of their lawyers, they will appear but won’t be answering direct questions. Solyndra sent out a statement saying the decision was “due to the ongoing Department of Justice investigation and on the advice of their counsel,” and that “the company is not aware of any wrongdoing by Solyndra officers, directors or employees in conjunction with the DOE loan guarantee or otherwise.” Solyndra’s offices were also searched by the FBI.
Already, House Republicans are jumping on the execs’ decision. In a statement, House Republicans said the execs decision to not testify “breaks an agreement that Solyndra’s lawyers had made with committee investigators that Mr. Harrison and Mr. Stover would voluntarily testify and answer the Committee’s questions about the half a billion dollar loss of taxpayer money.” “Who exactly are Solyndra’s executives trying to protect and what are they trying to hide?” asks the House Committee statement.