As I have reported here, here and here, former CEO of Al Gore’s pressure group and (for now) senior Department of Energy official Cathy Zoi sure looks like a walking ethics scandal, whose operation was far too cozy with rent-seeking ‘renewable’ energy interests that also make up a critical part of the Democrat’s political machine. It seems that even the folks over at Nature magazine are figuring out that things might not be all right in this hyper-politicized spending behemoth that is the “Green” Obama DoE.
Election eve details of green energy hiring scandal – November 01, 2010
New details are emerging from the recruitment scandal at a flagship office for the Obama administration’s vision of a green economy. They paint a cosy picture of the relationship between the US Department of Energy and at least one recipient of US stimulus money.
On the eve of the mid-term elections, the Inspector-General (IG) of the US Department of Energy (DOE) responded to Nature’s September 27th 2010 freedom-of-information-act request for an investigation report covering allegations that officials in DOE’s office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy flouted hiring regulations intended to prevent corruption in government. The office is headed by Assistant Secretary of Energy Cathy Zoi.
The document released by the IG redacts the names of the officials involved, but it does name the company, New West-Energetics, a joint venture between New West Technologies of Landover, Maryland, and Energetics Incorporated of Columbia, Maryland, that has received $1.9 million in funding under the 2008 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The released document also names the EERE office involved. It was the Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program, which funds states and Indian tribes to subsidize the introduction of green energy technologies. Ironically Secretary of Energy Steven Chu celebrated National Weatherization Day today by promoting DOE subsidies for energy efficiency in communities across the US.
Emails by an official in the weatherization program suggest that person knowingly sought to bypass regular hiring procedure, initially by trying to hire an individual from New West Technologies into an adjunct advisory position with the intent to later make them a permanent federal employee. Although initial attempts to hire in this way weren’t successful, the same person was then approached about advertized positions, with the decision in one case being made even before a short-list of candidates had been drawn up. One official forwarded the ad to the preferred candidate saying “I’m pretty sure you saw this, but I think this is the role for you 🙂 happy applying!”
The IG found the behavior violated a number of laws intended to promote fair competition for federal jobs and to prevent revolving door and other corrupt hiring arrangements. It has referred the recruiting officials involved for possible prosecution.
Though the word choice is confusing Nature says its documents come from DoE’s Inspector General, meaning not from a cooperative FOIA officer. In my recent update I noted I’ve had to appeal the refusal by DoE’s FOIA team to provide any documents relating to Zoi’s ethics compliance. I had only received documents from a separate, non-FOIA request to the designated ethics officer. But DoE clammed up when it came to providing me records to support (or, based on what I received from the ethics offer, rebut) the non-stop defense of Zoi that she recuses herself willy nilly from the apparent conflicts she trails around on her heel like so much toilet paper.
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