Jennifer Granholm Caught in Yet Another Ethics Mess

Jennifer Granholm Caught in Yet Another Ethics Mess

  • July 12, 2023
Energy Secretary’s admission her husband owned stock in company “working closely” with DOE draws another complaint

Today, government watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust, filed a supplemental complaint urging the Department of Energy (DOE) to investigate another apparent ethics violation by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. Recent media reports reveal the Secretary made multiple contradictory statements about her financial holdings and chose to endorse and participate in matters involving a company her spouse held a financial interest in well after congressional and public scrutiny into her finances began.

On April 20, 2023, Secretary Granholm told the Energy and Natural Resources Committee at a budget hearing that she did not own any individual stocks, saying she was only invested in mutual funds. However, she later backtracked, writing “I mistakenly told the Committee that I did not own any individual stocks, whereas I should have said that I did not own any conflicting stocks.” However, she later revealed in a letter that her husband owned stock in Ford Motor Company, which has “worked closely with the Biden Administration and DOE” in the development and promotion of electric vehicles. Her husband’s ownership of Ford stock is imputed to her per federal ethics rules.

While her husband still held stock in Ford, Granholm attended events to promote the company’s new electric car fleet. The DOE Secretary appeared in a video with Transportation head Pete Buttigieg, endorsing the new electric vehicles saying things such as “The car is cool” and “I notice that as we’re driving, people are glancing longingly at the vehicle.” Federal employees are prohibited from using their official title or official capacity to endorse specific products, services, or enterprises, yet Secretary Granholm appeared to be actively promoting a Ford product.

Secretary Granholm also participated in DOE’s SuperTruck 3 grant program from which Ford received a nearly $25 million award in 2021. Her involvement in this program was the subject of a PPT ethics complaint in November 2021 based upon the ties of several grant recipients to Proterra, a company she was forced to recuse from because of her service on its board up until the time of her confirmation. The revelation of her husband’s ownership of Ford stock at this time would present even more egregious and clear-cut ethics issues for the Secretary.

“Secretary Granholm is an experienced, sophisticated government official who understands her legal and ethical obligations,” Protect the Public’s Trust Director Michael Chamberlain said. “Her participation in matters involving Ford Motor Company while her husband owned stock in the company would represent a blatant violation of her ethics obligations. The Inspector General should commence an immediate and thorough investigation into the Energy Secretary’s seeming disregard for ethics rules. This is precisely the type of episode that has led to the American public’s trust in its government having all but disappeared.”