Minneapolis, MN The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota (FFM) today released the results of their eight-month investigation into a high-ranking Obama Administration official's close ties and apparent conflict of interest regarding the economic stimulus package and its energy efficiency provisions.
Last year Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA or the so-called Stimulus Bill). The U.S. Department of Energy’s office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) received $16.8 billion of those ARRA funds to be used to promote green energy and conservation programs including the popular $1,500 tax credit for homeowners who install energy-efficient windows. The Assistant Secretary of Energy, Cathy Zoi, is responsible for oversight in disbursing these stimulus funds.
Ms. Zoi is married to Robin Roy, a top executive at Serious Materials, a privately held manufacturer of “sustainable green building materials” located in California. On the Executive Branch Personnel Public Financial Disclosure submitted by Ms. Zoi to the White House Ethics office as part of her confirmation, Ms. Zoi disclosed ownership with her spouse of 120,000 vested and unvested stock options in Serious Materials, a company her office regulates and that she may profit from.
According to several news reports and the trade magazine Window & Door, Serious Materials was "[A] company, and a man, virtually unknown in the window and door industry just a short time ago.” Yet this small California manufacturer suddenly burst on the scene in Washington as what Vice President Joe Biden called the “poster child” for green jobs and economic recovery. For the past several months, the White House has repeatedly praised and promoted Serious Materials. To see the events and what the administration has said about Serious Materials, visit: www.FreedomFoundationofMinnesota.com and view the FFM video entitled, “The Obama Administration’s Serious Conflict of Interest”.
What has all of this praise from the White House meant to Serious Materials? “The new administration is a huge boon to what we are doing,” Kevin Surace, CEO of Serious Materials said in a June interview. “The White House issued a press release specifically thanking Serious Materials a few weeks ago. We had a 22 minute press conference with the president. In a national address, he opened with Serious Materials. I don’t think we can ask for better coverage. We are very close to the White House and Department of Energy. We have 30 patents pending in window technology and the DOE (Department of Energy) loves what we are doing.” And, it’s Assistant Secretary Zoi’s office that has disbursed billions of dollars taxpayer dollars for the very windows that Serious Materials manufacturers and her husband works for.
“On the surface, this appears to be another case of government using tax dollars to pick winners and losers,” said Annette Meeks, CEO of the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota. “Yet upon closer examination, it appears to be a bit more than that. Our research suggests that one window manufacturer that has very close ties to this Administration has received lavish attention and special tax breaks. President Obama promised the “most transparent Administration in the history of this country. Now is the time for his administration to live up to that promise and prove to taxpayers that stimulus funds haven’t been used to reward their political friends."