Biden Administration Places Solyndra CEO As Head Of Billion-Dollar Initiative

A flurry of questions surrounds the Biden administration’s decision to give $6.6 billion to support a semiconductor project run by failed Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison.

The Free Beacon reported that Harrison is the former CEO of the solar energy company Solyndra. The company received $500 million in funding from Obama administration loans but later went bankrupt amid charges of mismanagement.

In 2011, an inspector general investigation revealed that Solyndra executives provided misleading information to the Department of Energy.

The report concluded that the “actions of certain Solyndra officials were, at best, reckless and irresponsible or, at worst, an orchestrated effort to knowingly and intentionally deceive and mislead the Department.”

The massive initiative fuels questions and criticism from Republicans, who note that the economy and out-of-control federal spending are top-level national concerns. Democrats counter by noting that investing in domestic computer chip production is key to addressing national security concerns.

Many suggest that the decision to assign Harrison as the project’s leader is more controversial than the staggering price tag.

Harrison served as CEO of the failed Solyndra company from 2010-2011. He joined the TSMC Arizona team in 2021 and became president of the company in 2023. His close ties to Biden and Obama have spurred speculation.

On Monday, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced the $6.6 billion award would support building a factory in Phoenix, Arizona. The project is a subsidiary of the Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC.

President Biden celebrated the funding agreement on Monday, noting that TSMC plans to build multiple manufacturing compounds in Arizona.

A statement from the White House read:

Today, we continue building on that historic progress, with the Department of Commerce announcing a preliminary agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to support the construction of leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing facilities right here in the United States.

Thanks to this investment, TSMC will also build a third chip factory in Phoenix, increasing its total investment in Arizona to $65 billion and creating over 25,000 direct construction and manufacturing jobs, along with thousands of indirect jobs.

The investment plan follows a 2022 announcement that the United States was investing $280 billion in “high tech,” including chip development and technology, to counter China’s current advantage, according to a report by the BBC.

Reuters reported that “export curbs” in the fall of 2023 followed the new investments announced in 2022. The reported goal of these initiatives is to halt Beijing’s technological advances.”

In March, Biden announced a plan to provide Intel with up to $8.5 billion in direct funding and $11 billion in loans for computer chip plants in four states, including Ohio and Arizona.

The multi-billion investments are supported by the CHIPS and Science Act, which Biden signed in 2022. At the time, the president said that major investments were necessary to counter China’s dominance in the semiconductor industry.

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