Barrasso Calls on Granholm to Uphold the Highest Ethical Standards

July 12, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), sent a letter to Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer Granholm regarding the participation of a lobbyist for Ford Motor Company on the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board. Barrasso calls on Secretary Granholm to remove the lobbyist from the Board.

Read the full letter here and below.

Dear Secretary Granholm,

I again write to you regarding your repeated lapses in upholding basic ethical standards in the performance of your official duties. The Department of Energy (Department) recently announced a multi-billion dollar loan to Ford Motor Company while Ford’s top lobbyist simultaneously occupied, and continues to occupy, a seat on your Advisory Board. In conjunction with your familial ownership of Ford stock, this is cause for great concern. In order to remediate potential impropriety and restore the public trust, I request that you remove Ford’s lobbyist from your Advisory Board.

On April 6, 2023, you assigned Ford’s top lobbyist and former Department of Energy Assistant Secretary, Christopher Smith, to the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB). As an SEAB member, Mr. Smith was selected to “…advise [you] on how best to achieve the priorities of the Department, help identify emerging issues related to the DOE’s activities, and offer suggestions for improvements to its operation.”  Meanwhile, in potential violation of 18 U.S.C. § 208, your husband maintained thousands of dollars’ worth of Ford stock.

Just over two months after Ford’s top lobbyist was appointed to the SEAB, the Department announced a $9.2 billion loan to Ford, the largest single investment in the history of the Department’s Loan Programs Office (LPO). Before funds are disbursed, this loan, just as every other LPO loan, is approved by you, personally.

The totality of these circumstances amounts to, at the very least, the appearance of an undue influence by Ford on the Department of Energy. The Department must be guided by a spirit of impartiality and competition as it allocates hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer funds. It is clear this cannot happen while Ford’s top lobbyist remains on your Advisory Board.

I ask that you respond to the following questions no later than July 26, 2023.