Granholm Set to Cash In After Biden Tour of Electric Bus Maker

Who says you can’t get rich as a public servant?

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm promised during her confirmation process that she would divest her stock ownership in the electric bus and battery maker Proterra, Inc.

Granholm hasn’t abided by her agreement to divest yet President Biden recently gave a promotional virtual tour of Proterra’s facilities opening the door to Granholm making a windfall when Proterra goes public in a matter of weeks.

Senator John Barrasso is asking the Energy Department Inspector General to investigate the potentially lucrative arrangement for Granholm. 

Secretary Granholm submitted a U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (Committee) Statement for Completion by Presidential Nominees (Committee Questionnaire), which she signed on January 21, 2021. She responded “Yes” to the following question: “Have you taken appropriate action to avoid any conflict of interest or any appearance of a conflict interest?”

She responded “Yes” to the following question: “If confirmed, will you adhere to the Committee’s recusal policy?” (She reaffirmed her commitment to adhere to the Committee’s recusal policy in a follow-up letter to Senator Lisa Murkowski, then-Chairman of the Committee, in a January 25, 2021 letter.) In agreeing to adhere to the Committee’s recusal policy, Secretary Granholm committed to: 

• “Abide by the recusal requirements imposed by federal conflict of interest laws and the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch;”

• “Seek the advice of his or her designated agency ethics officer before proceeding whenever faced with a situation that may give rise to any actual or apparent conflict of interest;” and

• “Adhere to the principles of ethical conduct and avoid any actions creating the appearance of violating the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch.”

Key facts:

• Served as Board Member of Proterra, Inc., for which she received compensation exceeding $5,000 in a year;

• Held up to $5 million in vested stock options in Proterra, Inc.; and

• Held 61,042 unvested stock options of a “value not readily ascertainable” that would vest in December 2021 and expire in December 2024.