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FBI Solyndra raid: misuse of federal loans?

FBI Solyndra raid believed to be related to more than $500 million in federal loans the solar firm received before filing for bankruptcy. FBI: Solyndra investigation is being carried out jointly with Energy Department.

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"It's really sad to everybody who worked here," Miller said on Thursday. "We believed in the technology."

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Mohammad Walahi, 41, worked for Solyndra for five years before showing up a week ago only to be told by a colleague that the company was going bankrupt. He blamed management, saying they had made bad decisions.

"See these buildings?" he asked, gesturing to the company's gleaming new campus. "They put all that money they got into buildings. What do you need these for? It only should have gone into making our solar panels better."

Walahi, a process technician at Solyndra, said it was heartbreaking to see the hope the company once embodied die.

Solyndra is being sued by workers who were abruptly laid off after last week's announcement, although Walahi said he is not part of the suit.

The federal government agreed to guarantee up to $535 million in loans, and ended up lending nearly $528 million, according to the company's bankruptcy filing.

The loan attracted attention from Republican lawmakers early on as they questioned whether politics played a role in the company getting funding. One of the company's investors, George Kaiser of Oklahoma, helped raised money for Obama's presidential campaign.

Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns, chairman of a House subcommittee investigating Solyndra, recently called on the White House to release all communications between the White House and Solyndra and its investors. The House Energy and Commerce Committee issued a subpoena in July seeking documents from the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Democrats opposed those efforts, but on Thursday began to change their tack. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., called on Stearns to invite Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison to a hearing on Sept. 14. Waxman said that Harrison met with committee members less than two months ago and assured lawmakers that the company was in a strong financial position.

"These assurances appear to contrasts starkly with the company's decision to file for bankruptcy," Waxman said.

Obama administration officials have said the $535 million loan guarantee was also sought by the Bush administration. They have also said Solyndra increased sales revenue by 2,000 percent in the past three years and that private investors put more than $1 billion into the company.

"The Department of Energy's Loan Program has supported a robust, diverse portfolio of more than 40 projects that are investing in pioneering companies as we work to regain American leadership in the global race for clean energy jobs," Damien LaVera, a spokesman for the energy department, said in a statement.

"Collectively, the projects we are supporting are expected to employ more than 60,000 Americans, create tens of thousands of additional indirect jobs, and help America stay competitive with countries like China in the clean energy race."