Some media outlets have asked us questions about the role that Steve Spinner played during his time at the Energy Department. He was an advisor on our Recovery Act team tasked with monitoring the progress of Recovery Act implementation, but had no role in making decisions on whether particular applications were approved.
Here are some additional facts to help put this in context:
- Steve Spinner acted as a liaison between the Recovery Act Office and the Loan Programs Office. In that capacity, he played no role in the decision-making on or evaluation of individual loan applications or the awarding of any grants.
- Spinner started at the Department at the end of April 2009 – after the decision to offer Solyndra a conditional commitment was already made – and returned to the private sector at the end of September 2010 – before the loan deal was restructured.
- Like all political appointees at the Department, Spinner was required to file public financial disclosure statements. Those records show that Spinner’s investment portfolio included six companies included in a third party managed account that were awarded grants from DOE while he was in office. Spinner had no role in evaluating applications or making decisions on these or any other DOE loan guarantees and grants. A formal recusal was not required because these financial interests were less than $15,000 and therefore fell within the Executive Branch-wide de minimis exception for interests in securities at 5 C.F.R. 2640.202.
- While Spinner was responsible for monitoring the loan program, even in that capacity he was recused from engaging in any discussions on decisions affecting specific loan applications in which his spouse’s law firm was involved out of concern for the appearance of a conflict of interest.
- While Spinner’s wife worked at a law firm that represented Solyndra during the closing of their loan application, that firm has publicly stated that she had no role in any firm business involving Solyndra or any other client matters involving the Energy Department while Spinner was in office.
- Spinner was a qualified expert who made important contributions to our Department’s efforts to promote clean energy technologies. Spinner has a Harvard MBA and is an experienced business executive with more than 15 years advising innovative start-up companies in the technology, media and retail industries. In addition to advising dozens of start-up companies, Spinner was an executive at NBC and NBC Internet.