Republican groups call for resignation of Biden energy secretary

By 
 August 16, 2023

More than a dozen Republican groups have joined to call for the resignation of Biden administration energy secretary Jennifer Granholm for repeated ethical lapses, writing a five-page letter to Biden on Tuesday about the matter. 

The groups alleged Granholm has "disregarded and de-prioritized her ethics obligations at every turn," and gave several examples to support their claims.

In June, Granholm admitted that her husband, David Mulhern, held Ford Motor Company stock even as the Biden administration approved electric vehicle subsidies that will likely benefit the company.

She told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee at the time that she didn't know until May that he owned the $2,400 in stock and that he sold it two days later.

Granholm lied, if unwittingly

The stock ownership and her lack of knowledge about it made her a liar in April when she testified in April that she "did not own any individual stocks," but she later said she meant to say that she "did not own any conflicting stocks" (which she also did). An ethics complaint was filed but nothing has resulted from it so far.

The ignorance Granholm displayed does not seem genuine, since she was previously the governor of Michigan and should have known how to navigate conflicts of interest by the time she became energy secretary.

Besides the Ford stock debacle, Granholm also sold 240,000 shares of Proterra for $1.6 million in May 2021 after sitting on the board and being aware of her department boosting the company and giving subsidies to it.

Proterra filed for bankruptcy this week and is expected to reorganize.

"Wasn't my fault"

"Since Ms. Granholm’s responses to these allegations have often relied on some variation of 'it wasn’t my fault,' this has left the American public wondering where exactly the buck stops in your administration," conservative media watchdog Media Research Center, the Heartland Institute think tank, the Energy and Environment Legal Institute, and the ethics watchdogs Protect the Public's Trust and American Accountability Foundation, among other groups, wrote.

"Since you took office, your administration has continually touted its commitment to ethics, with former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, for instance, declaring that you are 'committed to ensuring we have the most ethically vigorous administration in history,'" the letter continued. "The current moment presents an opportunity to demonstrate to the American public that such pronouncements have meaning and do not merely pay lip-service to a very important aspect of your leadership tenure."

The groups also said the U.S. Office of Special Counsel found that Granholm violated the Hatch Act by endorsing Democrat candidates in 2021 during a news interview. The office decided not to discipline Granholm because it didn't think she had gotten enough training about the Hatch Act.

"It is an undisputed fact that Jennifer Granholm is a sophisticated federal employee, a trained lawyer, and an experienced public servant," the coalition wrote in the letter. "The American people have every right to demand a high ethical bar for anyone with such credentials charged to lead a large and important federal agency. You often speak of maintaining the highest standards for your administration’s appointees. It is past time that you demonstrate that this promise holds some meaning."

Biden has not responded to the letter so far.

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