House Oversight Committee Investigating Granholm's Green Energy Investments

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm / Getty Images
May 12, 2021

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm's relationship with green energy company Proterra is being investigated by the House Oversight Committee due to a potential conflict of interest created by her multimillion-dollar investment.

In a Wednesday letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, committee ranking member Rep. Ralph Norman (R., S.C.) told Granholm that it would be conducting an inquiry into her "longstanding relationship with Proterra." Granholm previously sat on the board of directors of Proterra and holds up to $5 million in company stock, according to financial disclosures. Since Granholm's confirmation, the administration has promoted the company, including with a formal visit from both President Joe Biden and his top economic adviser.

"Despite scrutiny of your Proterra, Inc. holdings during your Senate confirmation hearing and by media reports, the White House still decided to promote the company with a presidential event," Norman wrote. "This is concerning."

The committee's investigation comes as Granholm scrambles to quell conflict of interest concerns sparked by a Free Beacon report on the day of Biden's April visit to Proterra. The Senate Energy and National Resources Committee last month called on the Department of Energy's inspector general to probe whether Granholm has properly separated herself from activity involving her investment.

The White House told the Free Beacon that Granholm had no involvement with Biden's tour of Proterra, and that she would recuse herself from any government business relating to the company. Norman called into question whether Granholm has satisfied this pledge given her extensive work promoting Proterra's industry.

"While you claim to have been uninvolved with President Biden’s virtual visit to Proterra, Inc., you have spent much of your time as Secretary of DOE actively pushing a public relations campaign to endorse electric vehicles, batteries and charging infrastructure," Norman wrote. "I want to ensure that you are taking your ethics requirements seriously, and not using your position to profit financially."

The committee is asking Granholm to produce several documents, including all communications since Biden's inauguration regarding her divestment from Proterra, the president's visit to the company, and the promotion of Biden's American Jobs Plan. Granholm has until May 26 to provide the requested forms.

Norman told the Free Beacon the inquiry into Granholm will be a top priority for committee Republicans, and that he "will not rest until we know the full extent of the secretary’s relationship with this company."

"We choose to be public servants to better our nation—not line our pockets," Norman said. "The secretary has had ample time to distance herself from conflicting investments."

The Department of Energy said this week that Granholm still holds her investment in Proterra. The company was acquired by ArcLight earlier this year for $1.6 billion.