When Barack Obama ran for office, he promised to change the culture of Washington, blah, blah, blah. These openings more or less write themselves, don’t they? Anyway, to no one’s great shock, yet another senior Obama administration figure has managed to find ways to cash in on the sector she’s supposed to be regulating. Meet Cathy Zoi, assistant secretary of energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy — and Green Entrepreneur on the taxpayer dime:
A top Obama administration official who’s helping lead a campaign for energy conservation has a major financial interest in two companies that are poised to benefit from the government’s spending.
Cathy Zoi, the assistant secretary of energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy, owns between $250,000 and $500,000 worth of stock in Landis+Gyr, a Swiss-based manufacturer of special electric meters that are used to create an efficient “smart” grid of electricity use.
Her husband, Robin Roy, owns options on at least 120,000 shares of Serious Materials, a leading manufacturer of energy-efficient windows that’s been singled out for praise by President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. As an officer of the company, Roy receives options on an additional 2,500 shares every month and will continue to do so until October 2012.
Energy Department aides said that Zoi, once a close ally of former Vice President Al Gore, doesn’t participate in decisions that would drive government money to either company.
Of course not! Just because two companies in which a senior DoE official owns stakes suddenly gets a lot of business from the administration doesn’t mean that corruption exists. No, no, no. That’s just a coincidence!
McClatchy notes that some critics wonder what it is that Zoi actually does, if she’s been cut out of the loop on these projects. Pajamas Media, among the first to notice Zoi’s business connections, mused: “If she doesn’t participate in decisions that could have a ‘direct and predictable effect’ on her Landis+Gyr holdings and she doesn’t participate in decisions that could have a ‘direct and predictable effect’ on her holdings in Serious Materials, it seems worth asking in which decisions she can participate.” Or, alternatively, why we’re paying Zoi at all. After all, she seems ready to do well on her own, and it doesn’t appear the DoE gives her much to do. Can’t we save a salary here?
It also seems worth asking how many more Obama administration officials will personally profit from enforcing White House policy.
Jonathan Blake of FFM notes a couple of other points that haven’t been widely reported, in an e-mail to me earlier today:
- “Cathy Zoi’s husband Robin Roy (VP at Serious Materials) testified before a House subcommittee on March 31, 2009 on behalf of his company, offering advice on how to implement the energy efficiency provisions of the ARRA. Roy neglected to mention in his testimony that just four days earlier, President Obama had nominated his wife Cathy Zoi to implement the very same stimulus programs about which Roy was testifying. Here are some relevant public documents, including Roy’s testimony.”
- “More than three months ago, the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota made a request under the Freedom of Information Act for a full list of Cathy Zoi’s recusals since she began working in the Obama Administration in June 2009. To date, the Department of Energy has failed to provide a single document. DOE officials have declined to say when, or if, our request will be fulfilled.”
No recusals? Didn’t the White House claim that Zoi has recused herself repeatedly? We’ll keep an eye out for any further developments.