President Joe Biden’s green energy loan czar, Jigar Shah, has been struggling to explain his relationship with a trade association he founded that has been selling companies access to him at paid private events.
Since 2022, Shah has headlined at least 10 paid dinners and events for loan-seeking companies hosted by Cleantech Leaders Roundtable, a green tech trade group he founded in 2017. He also co-hosted an invitation-only conference in Washington, D.C., for companies looking for loans in early October.
During a Senate Energy Committee hearing, Republican lawmakers and the Department of Energy inspector general are ramping up investigations into conflicts of interest at the Loan Programs Office, a previously small department which has seen its influence and funding balloon under the Biden administration.
Sen. John Barrasso (WY), the top Republican on the committee, told Shah that the paid events were a “very bad look for you personally and a very bad look for the Department of Energy,” arguing that it gave the appearance that Shah was helping his former trade group sell access to him.
Shah declined to say if he would end his relationship with his former group and downplayed his position as head of the Loan Programs Office. He said his job was to gain private sector trust by attending events to promote the loan programs office. Later in the hearing, Shah said attendees at his Cleantech Roundtable speaking events were “not paying to see me. I’m not that important.”
DOE inspector general Teri Donaldson, the department’s chief watchdog, also testified at the hearing. She said her office has launched a new project “looking at conflicts of interest particularly in the Loan Programs Office.” The lawmakers asked Shah to turn over “all correspondence between the [Loan Programs Office], including yourself and Cleantech Leaders’ Roundtable,” during his time in office.