Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has sold her ownership interest in an electric bus manufacturer that President Joe Biden told during a “virtual trip” last month
A spokesman said Granholm sold its stake in California-based Protera Inc. this week, generating a net profit of $ 1.6 million. The Energy Department said the sale meets Granholm’s obligations under an ethical agreement three months before the August deadline.
“Secretary Granholm has acted in full accordance with the broad ethical standards set by the Biden administration and completed his disinvestment ahead of time required by his ethics agreement,” spokesman Kevin Liao said in an email.
Details of the sale will be released by the Government Ethics Office, though the timing is not certain.
Republicans criticized Granholm’s stake in the company, noting the Biden administration’s focus on electric vehicles as part of its push to address climate change. Criticism intensified after Biden’s online visit at a Protera manufacturing facility in South Carolina to expose American electric vehicle manufacturers.
John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, asked the Energy Department’s inspector general to investigate whether Granholm’s ownership in the company represented a conflict of interest. Member of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Ralph Norman, R.C. Also pressured Granholm for details of his relationship with Protera.
A former member of the Protera board, Granholm promised to disassociate himself from any case during his confirmation hearing with a “direct and anticipated impact on Protera’s financial interests” until he completed the sale of his interest in the company Did not do it.
Granholm and the White House said they had nothing to do with Biden’s online travel plans.
Former Michigan governor Granholm has long been a supporter of electric vehicles and has promoted his use as Secretary of Energy, calling him an important part of Biden’s climate strategy.
The Energy Department said Granholm’s stock sale came 89 days after he was sworn in as energy secretary, less than half the 180 days required by his ethical agreement.
Barrasso said Thursday that Granholm “actively promoted electric vehicles and electric vehicle batteries” even though he had stock in a major EV maker. While he sold the stock, “there appears to be a significant conflict of interest in his actions,” Barrasso said.
Inspector General Terry L. Donaldson told Barraso in a letter that she was evaluating the concerns raised by her and would “determine what the next steps might be appropriate.”