By Bay City News Service
Two congressional leaders Wednesday criticized the disclosure that executives at Fremont-based solar panel maker Solyndra will not testify at a hearing on Friday.
Solyndra, which received a $535 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy, announced on Aug. 31 that it was and ceased operations.
The 's office two weeks ago but has not disclosed the reason for its action.
Solyndra chief executive Brian Harrison and chief financial officer W.G. Stover were scheduled to testify on Friday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittee on oversight and investigations, which is investigating the loan.
But lawyers for Harrison and Stover sent letters to the subcommittee on Tuesday saying they will exercise their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and decline to answer any questions.
Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said the disclosure that Harrison and Stover won't answer questions breaks an agreement that Solyndra's lawyers had made with committee investigators that the two executives would testify voluntarily.
In a joint statement, Stearns and Upton asked, "Who exactly are Solyndra's executives trying to protect and what are they trying to hide?"
The pair said the investigation will continue whether Solyndra cooperates and whether they provide voluntary testimony.
Stearns and Upton continued, "It's disappointing that the officials who canvassed the halls of Congress in mid-July and misled our members about the financial state of their company are now unwilling to answer direct questions, but any effort to cover up the truth will ultimately not succeed."
The two congressmen said, "We have many questions for Solyndra's executives on their dealings with the Obama Administration, their efforts to secure federal support for a project that appeared doomed from the outset, and why they made certain representations to Congress regarding their dire financial situation just two months ago."
President Obama visited Solyndra on May 26, 2010, and said the company and its workers are "a testament to American ingenuity and dynamism."
A spokesman for Solyndra did not respond to a phone call and an email seeking comment on the statement by Stearns and Upton.