Public Service, Private Wealth
Last week, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm made $1.6 million divesting from her share in electric bus company Proterra, a sale she finalized only after Congressional Republicans raised conflict-of-interest concerns in the wake of President Joe Biden’s tour of the company’s manufacturing plant. An Energy Department spokesperson defended Granholm’s holding of the stock three months after she was confirmed to the Cabinet, insisting, “Secretary Granholm has acted in full accordance with the comprehensive ethical standards set by the Biden Administration and has completed her divestment well ahead of the time required by her ethics agreement.” That agreement gave Granholm 180 days – 6 months – to wait for Proterra’s stock to rise.
But Granholm is far from the only well-invested Biden administration official financially benefitting from exploiting long divestment timelines allowed by this president. New York Times’s Ken Vogel has kept a running thread outlining the financial interests of Biden officials since November. It’s long.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged to divest from WestExec, the consulting firm he co-founded with Michele Flournoy that Politico dubbed “Biden’s Cabinet in waiting,” in 90 days. When Blinken reported WestExec as an asset on his Public Financial Disclosure in December 2020, he estimated WestExec’s equity value somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million.
But in the two short months – only 60 days – that it took Blinken to finalize the sale, the value skyrocketed. The Secretary reported receiving between $1 million and $5 million for his share of the firm.
Some Biden officials can’t even keep tabs on all their investments. When Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin divested his first tranche of almost 9,800 shares in defense contractor Raytheon, where he served as a Board Member, in February 2021 for anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million, he apparently forgot about the dividends he would receive – another 90 shares that he sold in March for another $1,000 to $15,000.