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Solyndra scandal probe widens as White House orders new review

Faced with a growing scandal over the bankrupt Solyndra solar power company, the Obama administration has ordered an independent review of government loans to energy companies. Republican lawmakers say they'll subpoena internal White House communications on Solyndra.

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Apparently, White House officials weren’t the only ones pushing special consideration for green energy.

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Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah, who has criticized the Obama administration’s backing of Energy Department loan guarantees to Solyndra, pushed for more than $20 million in government funding for a clean energy firm in his home state, reports USA Today.

“Hatch aides [said] earlier this month that the Republican lawmaker had never pushed for taxpayer money to be used for Raser Technologies, which operated a geothermal power plant in southern Utah and also developed hybrid plug-in vehicles,” the newspaper reported Friday. “But on Friday, Hatch spokesman Matthew Harakal said that after an internal audit following publication of the USA Today story on Hatch's support for Raser, the Utah senator's office found that Hatch actually requested seven earmarks for more than $20 million from 2006 to 2008 to help fund research and development projects for the automotive wing of the company.”

None of the requests were funded, and Raser Technologies filed for bankruptcy in April.

Meanwhile, the Solyndra scandal – if that’s what it is – has indirectly touched at least one Republican presidential hopeful.

Mitt Romney is facing scrutiny this week for associating himself with a lobbyist whose firm worked for failed California solar panel company Solyndra,” The Hill newspaper in Washington reported this week. “Lobbyist Alex Mistri co-hosted a Romney fundraiser Wednesday that included a number of lobbyists and members of Congress, held at the American Trucking Association near Capitol Hill.”

Also attending the Romney fundraiser co-hosted by lobbyist Mistri was Rep. Darrell Issa (R) of California, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform investigating Solyndra.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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