By Ben Geman - 12/12/12 09:02 PM EST
But Stearns said attention to the failure of the California-based company, which collapsed last year after receiving a $535 million federal loan guarantee in 2009, helped Romney in the early going.
Here’s more of the Environment & Energy Daily story:
"I think the early exposure worked," Stearns said, but then the issue was lost in the rest of the 2012 noise.
"The president somehow was able to sidestep [Solyndra], and Romney did not make it an issue," Stearns said. "Just like Benghazi. Benghazi was a great issue for Romney, but he did not use it as well as I thought he could."
Stearns wondered yesterday if perhaps Solyndra had a short shelf life as a political issue, that it was stale by Election Day.
Romney, Republican political operatives and outside groups that cut pro-Romney ads cited Solyndra frequently during the 2012 campaign.
Romney even did a campaign event outside Solyndra’s shuttered California factory in late May, and mentioned the company when attacking President Obama’s energy record in two out of their three October debates.
Republicans have used the collapse of Solyndra and bankruptcies of some other federally backed companies to cast the White House's green energy agenda as a failure.
Administration officials say a few companies' woes should not obscure the wider success of the Energy Department loan portfolio and other programs in boosting renewable energy development and creating jobs.
Stearns, a top member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, led a lengthy probe of federal support for Solyndra.
The probe unearthed politically embarrassing information for the White House, such as internal emails showing pressure to complete the deal despite internal administration concerns.
A separate inquiry by the Treasury Department’s inspector general similarly showed “rushed” consultations between Energy Department officials eager to complete the deal and Treasury.
However, the Republican probe failed to substantiate repeated GOP allegations that the Solyndra financing was a political payoff for an Obama campaign bundler.
Stearns said the Solyndra probe was beneficial, even though the Senate did not take up his House-approved bill to curtail the Energy Department loan program and set new parameters. Environment & Energy Daily reports:
Still, Stearns said yesterday he believes his investigation helped Congress assert its role as steward of taxpayer dollars and reined in the Obama administration's green energy investments by putting a spotlight on the ties between the White House and those who were receiving funding. He also believes the investigation made it clear that controversial practices like subordinating federal funds to subsequent investments by private individuals will not be tolerated.