PPT Joins Coalition Letter Calling for Immediate Resignation of Secretary Jennifer Granholm
- August 14, 2023
DOE has been plagued by ethics failures and legal missteps of the Secretary and her subordinates
Today, Protect the Public’s Trust joined with other non-profit organizations dedicated to promoting ethics and integrity in government in requesting the immediate resignation of Secretary of the Department of Energy Jennifer Granholm. The request was based not only on her repeated apparent violations of federal ethics laws and regulations, but also on the ethics failures and legal missteps of her subordinates resulting from her poor example.
Secretary Granholm’s travails began with her delayed divestiture from Proterra, the electric bus company that recently declared bankruptcy but was promoted by the Biden Administration while Ms. Granholm held onto stock options from her stint on the board of the firm. The recent revelations about the Secretary’s continued financial ownership of Ford stock while appearing to act to enrich – and at times even publicly endorse – the company is egregious. However, it is simply the latest incident evidencing recklessness at best and intentional disregard for the law at worst.
In addition to her casual approach to conflicts of interest, she has acknowledged multiple STOCK Act violations, while the Office of the Special Counsel found that Secretary Granholm violated the Hatch Act in an October 2021 interview.
When confronted with these transgressions, a DOE spokesperson revealed the Department’s priorities lie elsewhere under Secretary Granholm’s leadership stating that “DOE and the Secretary remain focused on tackling the existing climate crisis and delivering an equitable clean energy future that will bring cheaper power, cleaner air and good-paying jobs for more Americans.” There is other evidence that Secretary Granholm’s apparently lax ethical standards seem to extend to her aides and top deputies at the Department. For example, former Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman resigned “following months of lawsuits and inquiries from Congress about her conflicts of interest,” as well as multiple complaints from nonpartisan watchdog groups about her relationship with her former employer and its member organizations.
The adventures of former DOE official Samuel Brinton, who served as the deputy assistant secretary of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in the Office of Nuclear Energy, also raise several concerns about personnel management at the Department. Brinton was accused of stealing luggage at airports on at least two occasions, pleading guilty in one case so far. Recent media reports reveal that one of these thefts occurred while Brinton was on official and taxpayer-funded travel and likely had a history of similar unlawful behavior prior to joining the Department.
After repeated ethical lapses, as well as the apparent lax culture of ethical compliance and personnel management at the Department of Energy, the recent revelations regarding Secretary Granholm’s personal financial interests in Ford and the multiple inaccurate statements to Congress about them demand an end to her tenure as Secretary. Indeed, maintaining the trust of the American public requires it.
“The Biden Administration consistently promotes itself as the most ethical in history, but that hardly seems to be the case in Jennifer Granholm’s Department of Energy,” said Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust. “Her tenure has been characterized by a continuing string of apparent ethics violations by herself and subordinates. Even worse, public statements seem to indicate that policy priorities take precedence over ethics requirements. Unfortunately, we see no other path for the Biden Administration to right this ship than for Jennifer Granholm to step down or be removed.”