Granholm Grants Interview to Dem Megadonor Donald Sussman's Daughter

Energy secretary expressed concern that comments could violate Hatch Act

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm / Getty Images
October 14, 2021

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm set aside time amid the energy crisis for a lengthy Instagram conversation with the daughter of a Democratic megadonor who spent millions of dollars to get President Joe Biden in the White House.

Granholm sat down for an interview last week with Emily Tisch Sussman, the daughter of liberal hedge fund manager Donald Sussman. The liberal financier spent more than nearly anyone in support of Biden's presidential campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, donating more than $23 million in support of Democratic candidates and liberal groups during the 2020 cycle alone.

Granholm's interview with Emily Tisch Sussman, hosted by beauty magazine Marie Claire, briefly touched on the secretary's role in the administration but  then shifted to the importance of electing progressive Democrats to get through Biden's spending agenda.

"First of all, not to be partisan, but I am part of a Democratic administration, and fortunately we have just bare, but we do have majorities in the House and Senate," Granholm said. "We've got to get this stuff through."

Sussman, whose father runs a hedge fund with billions of assets under management, stressed the importance of strengthening the government social net, noting how hard it is for her generation to get by. "So many of us are in the sandwich generation, taking care of our kids, taking care of our parents," she said.


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Granholm's interview with the beauty magazine comes as energy prices skyrocket in the United States. Her agency warned this week that winter heating bills could spike by up to 50 percent for the average household, as the price of electricity, natural gas, and petroleum all spike. The crisis was not mentioned during Granholm's interview with Sussman.

Sussman's father, Donald Sussman, runs the hedge fund Paloma Partners. He was one of the largest donors to both Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, and he has donated tens of millions of dollars to groups such as the Center for American Progress, at which he sits on the board of directors. He is also a member of the Democracy Alliance, a secretive liberal donor club founded by billionaire George Soros.

Emily Tisch Sussman, who referred to Granholm as "amazing" during the interview, has worked for the Center for American Progress and other left-wing political groups, according to her bio in Marie Claire.

Granholm acknowledged during the highly political interview that Sussman was putting her in an awkward position in which she might be violating the Hatch Act, which prevents administration officials from engaging in political activity.

"I'm subject to something called the Hatch Act, which means I can't advocate for people to call their Members of Congress," Granholm said. "If I weren't subject to the Hatch Act, I'm sure you know I would be, but I am so I can't do that."

Granholm nevertheless urged listeners to elect more progressive Democrats in future elections.

"The arguments in D.C. right now wouldn't be as tough as they are if we had just a couple more, just a couple more senators that agreed with us, or just a couple more members of the House," Granholm said. Granholm then urged listeners of the podcast, which has fewer than 4,000 views on Instagram, to run for office themselves to push for progressive policies.

"Continue to elect people, maybe you, think about running for office, you know," Granholm said.

The Department of Energy defended the topics covered during Granholm's interview with Sussman.

"Every American should hear about the benefits of the President's Build Back Better agenda—like creating good paying clean energy jobs, making health care and child care more affordable for families, and modernizing our infrastructure," a department spokeswoman said. "That includes sharing how Americans can participate in our democracy to ensure their voices and interests are heard."