Lawmakers are calling on Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to turn over her schedules and an accounting of all expenses for numerous official trips she took to Puerto Rico, saying the "frequency and duration of these trips raise concerns" about her focus during a global energy crisis.
Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to Granholm on Tuesday asking her to provide more details on her travel—the energy secretary traveled to the island at least four times in five months, the Washington Free Beacon reported last month, including a weeklong visit in February and another over spring break.
"The frequency and duration of these trips raise concerns regarding your attention to your other duties, particularly in light of climbing energy costs and intensifying threats to the United States’ energy independence," said House Energy and Commerce chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.) and Rep. Morgan Griffith (R., Va.), chairman of the subcommittee on oversight in a letter to Granholm on Tuesday.
The lawmakers asked Granholm to turn over an "itemized list of expenses incurred during the duration of your travels for yourself and all accompanying staff," as well as a "list of official activities and meetings undertaken during your travels and all accompanying meeting minutes."
The Department of Energy has defended the trip, noting that Granholm is focused on helping to modernize Puerto Rico’s struggling power grid, which was significantly damaged after Hurricane Maria in 2017.
"Secretary Granholm's highest priority is helping ensure all Americans everywhere gain access to clean, reliable, and affordable power, and Puerto Ricans are no exception," a DOE spokesperson told the Free Beacon last month.
McMorris Rodgers and Griffith wrote in the letter to Granholm that they "understand the importance of stabilizing and modernizing Puerto Rico’s electric grid" but "question whether your frequent and extended presence is critical to these activities."
One former DOE official told the Free Beacon that Granholm’s March trip alone could have "easily cost the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars between the advance teams, security, support staff, and more."
"Unless Granholm is there installing the solar panels herself, there is no reason for her to be on the ground for that long." the former official added.
In addition to the U.S. island, the congressional letter asked about Granholm’s trips to France, Australia, Mexico, and Singapore last year. The lawmakers requested the records from Granholm by May 8.