Congressional Republicans Demand Investigation of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm's Financial Conflicts of Interest
Jennifer Granholm's personal finances are coming under fire once again. Attorney Sam Dewey explains why two Republican lawmakers are demanding an internet watchdog investigate the stock trades of the Secretary for the Department of Energy.
In a letter sent to the Energy Department’s Inspector General, John Barrasso and Cathy McMorris Rodgers—the Ranking Members of the Senate’s and House’s Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, respectively—demanded a full investigation into Granholm's recent dealings.
The two lawmakers want to find out whether Granholm violated federal transparency laws when she failed to report stock sales that totaled $240,000 in the last year.
What She’s Accused Of
Granholm is accused of reporting personal stock trades past the deadline she’s required to do so. According to the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012, all members of Congress must report any stock trades to the Office of Government Ethics within 30 days of doing so.
In this case, Granholm failed to timely report nine stock trades that she made between April 30 and October 26, 2021. Those disclosures weren't made until December 15–16, though.
McMorris Rodgers and Barrasso want the Inspector General to investigate why the delay occurred. Specifically, they mentioned in their letter that they’re concerned about Granholm’s response to the allegations, in which she said she had no knowledge of being notified about the stock trades beyond the STOCK Act's deadline.
Granholm has already paid late fees of $400 for those filings, according to a spokeswoman for the Energy Department.
She's Not the Only One
While the Republican lawmakers are focused on Granholm's violations, she's not the only legislator who has been accused of violating the STOCK Act. Various media organizations identified close to 60 Congress members who didn't report financial transactions in the appropriate amount of time.
As Sam Dewey explains, the law was originally passed to combat the potential for a conflict of interest or insider trading. In other words, Congress wanted to remove the potential for any of its members to use insider knowledge they have about legislation or the inner workings of the government to their financial advantage.
Some legislators have said, though, that the Act hasn't accomplished its intended results just yet.
What Republicans Can Do
As the minority party in both chambers of Congress, Republicans are somewhat limited in what they can do in Granholm’s case—and that of anyone accused of violating the STOCK Act.
That could change come November, though, as the midterm elections loom large over control of both the Senate and the House. Should Republicans regain control of both chambers of Congress—or even one—they would have more ability to pursue the issue.
For one, the GOP could initiate internal investigations and hearings on Granholm's financial dealings specifically, or that of members of Congress generally.
In addition, they might consider crafting and passing legislation that would ban all members of Congress and their staff from directly trading in stocks. It would be a serious step, but it's one they could possibly take up.
About Samuel Dewey
Samuel Dewey is a successful lawyer and former Senior Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee and Chief Investigator and Counsel to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. Mr. Dewey specializes in: (1) white-collar investigations, compliance, and litigation; (2) regulatory compliance and litigation; and (3) complex public policy matters. Within these fields, Mr. Dewey is considered an expert in Congressional investigations and attendant matters. Mr. Dewey has a B.A. in Political Science, a J.D. from Harvard, and is admitted to practice law in Washington, D.C., and Maryland.