Granholm’s Ties to “Tesla of Buses” Earn Dubious Honor
- May 12, 2021
More than two months after being named to lead an administration initiative on electric vehicles, Granholm continues to hold stock in a company that could benefit from it.
Today, Protect the Public’s Trust added Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to its growing list of high-level Federal government appointees with potential conflicts of interest. Granholm holds stock options worth up to $5 million in Proterra, a company dubbed “the Tesla of electric buses” that stands to reap significant financial benefits from Biden administration initiatives, some of which Granholm herself leads. Though she has provided documentation of divesting in other holdings far less likely to present conflicts, Proterra was not included among them.
While Granholm held stock options in Proterra, President Biden took a well-publicized virtual tour of the company’s plant. The President’s promotion of Proterra could affect the value of the privately held firm looking to go public, and the value of Granholm’s shares along with it. The visit raises additional questions of whether Granholm or one of her deputies participated in the site selection. Granholm’s activities have prompted a request for an Office of Inspector General investigation from the U.S. Senate.
“Jennifer Granholm has continued to hold stock options in a company that stands to benefit from initiatives she is personally involved with,” said Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust, a non-profit organization focused on compliance in government. “What discussions has she had with ethics officials and how will she be able to lead these initiatives that could benefit a company with which she has had an ongoing relationship? These are precisely the types of conflicts that cause the American public to lose trust in their government.”
Granholm formerly served as Governor of Michigan. Her administration was responsible for a number of failed investments in renewable energy and electric vehicle companies that left taxpayers on the hook for millions.
The public’s trust that the Department of Energy’s decisions are being made in an ethical manner and not financially benefiting entities with covered relationships to the Secretary stands to be severely damaged. Complete answers to the following questions could go a long way to addressing these concerns:
- Why did Secretary Granholm not divest her Proterra stock on April 6, when she divested of so many other stocks, particularly given the promotion of the company by President Biden?
- How has Secretary Granholm’s position as Secretary of Energy benefitted Proterra’s projected stock price, and by extension, Granholm’s financial portfolio?
- What role did Secretary Granholm or anyone at DOE have in the White House’s choice for President Biden to tour Proterra while the Secretary of Energy still owns the company’s stock and stands to benefit financially from that presidential visit?
- Does Secretary Granholm plan to hold her Proterra stock options for the entire 180 days following confirmation – the period of time she claims she is permitted to do so under the law? Will she commit to divesting of the stock options prior to the company going public?
- Will Secretary Granholm recuse herself from any decision, deliberation, or particular matter that could financially benefit Proterra?
- Will Secretary Granholm commit to releasing the client list of her husband’s consulting business, including all green energy companies that stand to benefit from her position and agenda?