Green Energy Group Shakes Up Board Amid Senate Probe Into Biden Loan Program

Dem fundraiser Anne Slaughter Andrew exited Cleantech Leaders board as Republicans probe conflicts of interest

L: Biden energy official Jigar Shah ( R: Anne Slaughter Andrew (Wikimedia Commons)
January 11, 2024

A Democratic donor whose energy company was approved for a $3 billion federal loan in October has left the board of a nonprofit founded by Biden’s energy loan czar, amid a Senate probe into conflicts of interest in the federal funding program.

Anne Slaughter Andrew, a well-connected Democratic fundraiser, quietly exited the boards of the Cleantech Leaders Roundtable and its sister group, the Cleantech Leaders Climate Forum, late last year.

Andrew’s departure came after Republican lawmakers started probing the relationship between Cleantech Leaders and Jigar Shah, the director of the Department of Energy’s $400 billion loan program. Shah founded and led Cleantech Leaders before joining the Biden administration, and he has headlined nearly a dozen paid events that the nonprofit trade group has hosted for loan-seeking executives over the past two years.

Her departure from Cleantech Leaders is raising eyebrows on Capitol Hill, where Republicans on the Senate and House energy committees have been investigating whether companies that paid to attend Cleantech Leaders events with Shah received preferential treatment from his office.

Andrew is a director at Sunnova Energy, a solar company that snagged a $3 billion loan from Shah’s office in October. Lawmakers questioned whether the loan decision had any connection to Andrew’s position on the Cleantech Leaders board and her relationship with Shah.

Andrew and Cleantech Leaders did not respond to requests for comment.

Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Andrew’s exit from the Cleantech Leaders board "underscores the need for thorough scrutiny," in a letter to the DOE inspector general.

Andrew, who has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats, is married to the former national chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Joe Andrew. She served as ambassador to Costa Rica under the Obama administration, a position that has often gone to large donors.

Lawmakers started scrutinizing Shah and his relationship with Cleantech Leaders in October, after the Washington Free Beacon reported that the trade organization, which Shah founded in 2017, had become a gatekeeper for companies seeking loans from his office.

Cleantech Leaders’ revenue more than tripled in the year after Shah joined the administration, according to its tax disclosure records. The group regularly hosts sold-out receptions featuring Shah for its paying members across the country.

In October, the DOE Loans Program Office and Cleantech Leaders also co-hosted an invitation-only conference in Washington, D.C., for companies looking for loans. Cleantech Leaders was in charge of the invite list and ticket sales for the event.

"Hundreds of Billions $$$$$$," wrote Cleantech Leaders’ executive director in a LinkedIn post about Loan Programs Office funding in 2022. "We love Jigar Shah for that and also for co-founding the Cleantech Leaders Roundtable."

Several of the conference’s financial sponsors received or were seeking major loans from the office, including battery company KorePower, which received an $850 million conditional commitment from the LPO last year.

Shortly after the October conference, Shah’s office approved a $3 billion loan guarantee to Sunnova, where Andrew serves on the board. Andrew was listed on the board of Cleantech Leaders at the time, according to the group’s website.

In addition to the congressional scrutiny, DOE inspector general Teri Donaldson told the Senate Energy Committee in October that her office opened an investigation "looking at conflicts of interest, particularly in the Loan Programs Office."