PPT Features Prominently in Congressional Hearings
- April 20, 2023
Three separate committees explore aspects of PPT’s work in questioning agency officials
Congressional overseers are hard at work investigating the goings-on at executive branch agencies as Department Secretaries and Inspectors General (IGs) face questioning about the budget, ethics, and priorities. Just this week, PPT’s efforts to provide transparency, expose conflicts and misconduct, and educate the public made appearances in at least three separate hearings.
Science Undermined: The Biden Administration took office promising to “follow the science.” Yet PPT has documented a disturbing trend at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its component agencies to ignore and disregard the science in decisions and public pronouncements. Our Science Undermined page contains the complaints we have filed calling attention to apparent violations of the HHS and Biden Administration’s scientific integrity policies.
Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina submitted PPT’s scientific integrity complaints into the record of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce’s hearing with the HHS Inspector General.
Transparency Ignored: Earlier this week, PPT filed transparency lawsuits against the Department of the Interior (DOI) over Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding communications between DOI Secretary Deb Haaland’s daughter, Somah, and Department leadership. Somah Haaland is among the leadership of an organization that participated in planning protests, one of which erupted into a riot at DOI headquarters in October 2021. The younger Haaland also lobbied officials in Washington, DC, on land-use issues that are under the authority of Secretary Haaland, creating the perception of a conflict of interest for the Secretary.
Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale declared in questioning of Secretary Haaland at the House Natural Resources Committee hearing, “Trust in government is paramount if our system is to work. Transparency is a main component of establishing that trust.” Rep. Rosendale then pressed the Secretary on the reason for delays in processing PPT’s FOIA requests.
Ethics Cast Aside: Until she was confirmed as President Biden’s Secretary of Energy in February 2021, Jennifer Granholm was on the board of Proterra, a manufacturer of electric buses and electric vehicle parts. Her membership on the board required her to recuse from certain matters involving Proterra for two years, according to the Biden Ethics Pledge.
Rep. Stephanie Bice of Oklahoma, in the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, presented the Department of Energy (DOE) IG with the facts surrounding a PPT complaint against Secretary Granholm for her participation in a grant program, including delivering a November 2021 announcement flanked by Proterra buses, in which companies with ties to Proterra received nearly $80 million from DOE. While the IG discussed the timing of divestment, the covered relationship creating the possible conflict for the Secretary was due to her board membership and requires her recusal for one year under federal ethics laws and two years under the Biden Ethics Pledge. Her participation in this program fell well within those time periods.
PPT applauds the attention given by lawmakers to our effort to expose misconduct at the highest levels of federal agencies. We will continue to demand transparency and provide the American public with information on those are who are running our government.