DOE Grants Manchin Donor's Company $1 Million

Grant comes as Biden attempts to secure Manchin's support for infrastructure bill

Getty Images
June 10, 2021

A major donor to Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) received a $1 million grant from the Department of Energy ahead of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm’s trip to West Virginia to lobby the senator on the administration’s $2 trillion infrastructure bill.

The U.S. Research Impact Alliance, an incubator for energy startups, received $1 million as part of the Department of Energy’s "grant funding for research and innovation projects," Manchin and Granholm announced during the energy secretary’s two-day visit to West Virginia late last week. The company’s treasurer is West Virginia businessman Michael Green, a longtime political ally and donor to Manchin.

The grant was part of a $6 million Department of Energy spending blitz in West Virginia last week, where the Biden administration is working to secure support for the American Jobs Plan from Manchin—a Democratic swing vote, with the power to make or break the administration’s legislative priorities in the Senate. The news raises questions for the Biden administration, which has already been accused of providing benefits to curry favor with Manchin. In March, the White House appointed Manchin’s wife Gayle to lead the Appalachian Regional Commission, a $175 million economic development agency, just two days after Manchin cast a divisive, last-minute vote to approve Biden’s embattled Pentagon policy nominee Colin Kahl.

Manchin acknowledged his leverage over the American Jobs Plan in a radio interview in April, noting that he objected to the proposal’s large corporate tax hike.

"If I don’t vote to get on it, it’s not going anywhere. So we’re going to have some leverage here," he said.

"Friday, Manchin and Granholm announced Department of Energy grant funding for research and innovation projects," said the Department of Energy in a June 7 press release. "The WVU Research Corp. will receive $5 million for NETL. Morgantown-based United States Research Impact Alliance, a business incubator for businesses developing solutions for energy and manufacturing companies, will receive $1 million in funding."

Granholm promised during her trip that the funding was the "tip of the iceberg" for West Virginia, with more to come if the American Jobs Plan passes.

Green and his wife have donated over $11,000 to Manchin’s Senate campaign since 2010, according to Federal Election Commission records. In 2009, Manchin, who was serving as governor at the time, appointed Green to the West Virginia Board of Education. Green is also chairman of a local investment fund in which Manchin’s wife owns a financial stake, according to financial disclosure reports.

Green also serves as chairman of West Virginia Growth Investment, LLC, an investment fund that focuses on companies in the West Virginia area, according to his biography. Manchin’s wife Gayle owns a stake in the fund between $15,001 and $50,000, according to Manchin’s financial disclosure report.

A promotional video for the U.S. Research Impact Alliance, which was founded in 2020, states that it works in partnership with Mountain State Capital, an energy research and development company cofounded by Green.

Green, Manchin, the U.S. Research Impact Alliance, and the Department of Energy did not respond to requests for comment.

In addition to the $1 million grant to the U.S. Research Impact Alliance and $5 million to the West Virginia University Research Corporation, Granholm announced that a federally backed wind farm project would use steel purchased from West Virginia.

Granholm was in West Virginia "to tout the American Jobs Plan" while touring the state with Manchin, according to a DOE press release. President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion spending package—which includes $10 billion for a "Civilian Climate Corps" and $174 billion in electric car subsidies—would be financed through a tax hike that would raise U.S. corporate taxes from 21 percent to 28 percent.

Manchin expressed concerns about the bill last month. "I don’t think there is an appetite to put a big bill, $2.3 trillion, together," he said, adding that he was in favor of negotiating with Republicans on a more modest proposal.

Granholm and Manchin toured an energy research facility and an underground coal mine, according to photos the senator posted on Twitter. The energy secretary said on Twitter that she talked to Manchin and state legislators about "the opportunities the Biden-Harris administration can help them seize. We're here for a simple reason: JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! #AmericanJobsPlan."

Published under: Joe Manchin