WASHINGTON -- After months of investigations into Solyndra and other Department of Energy loans failed to produce a smoking gun, one Republican lawmaker let slip why House Republicans have kept up the charge.
In an interview following yet another hearing in which Energy Secretary Steven Chu testified about the Department's loan guarantee program, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) appeared to admit that Republicans' ongoing probes of the program -- from which the bankrupt California-based solar company Solyndra and others benefited -- are largely a play to win votes in November.
"Our staff will continue to dig into it and see," Jordan told Environment & Energy Daily. "But what I hope happens is we stop doing these kind of things ... this whole cronyism approach to the marketplace.
"Ultimately, we'll stop it on Election Day, hopefully. And bringing attention to these things helps the voters and citizens of the country make the kind of decision that I hope helps them as they evaluate who they are going to vote for in November."
Jordan's press secretary, Meghan Snyder, called HuffPost on Thursday to discuss the context for Jordan's statement.
"If you step back a little bit and look at the quote, he's discussing how these Oversight investigations are bringing to light things like, especially in this one, the cronyism of the market place," she said. "How he intended it and I believe maybe if you flip the coin you can kind of see, is he's explaining the purpose of Oversight Committee, which is bringing this to light for Americans. A lot of these people vote, and therein maybe lies the mix-up of how it was perceived by your story and maybe another one.
"We're just saying this is our purpose and voters see it," she added. "Maybe they'll put an end to it on Election Day. But to say that elections drive the Oversight Committee, we believe is incorrect. It's the purpose of the Oversight Committee to conduct these investigations."
Others, like Tea Party Caucus member Steve King (R-Iowa), have said Republican leadership is always wary of using its investigations of the Obama administration for political gain, particularly with regard to botched gun-tracking program Operation Fast and Furious.
“I think leadership doesn’t want to be seen as using the gavels here for political purposes,” King told The Hill in an interview. “I think there’s a bit of an aversion to that. Me? I have no reservations about that. This is politics.”
The statements come after Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, charged Monday that the Republican-led House of Representatives' chief investigator, committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), had repeatedly launched "unsubstantiated" investigations into the Department of Energy.
In a letter to the powerful chairman, Cummings noted Issa had launched no fewer than 11 investigations into the department and its employees, many of which were "based on unsubstantiated allegations that proved inaccurate after further investigation."
"Although I fully support aggressive oversight to ensure that government programs work effectively and efficiently," Cummings wrote, "I believe the Committee should refrain from making accusations without evidence to support them and should correct the record when claims turn out to be inaccurate."