Critics have seized on the audit as evidence that Ritter isn’t qualified to be Energy secretary.
“If you want to talk about leadership on energy issues, look no further than the Colorado Energy Office,” said Colorado Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and who represents a district that’s heavily dependent on the oil and gas industry.
“It was devastating,” state Sen. Greg Brophy, who represents much of the same region, said of the audit. “I guess in light of what we learned from the way the Obama Administration gave away money to friends without accountability, it’s not surprising that Gov. Ritter would be considered to be added to that administration because it’s more of the same. There’s no accountability to how the money was spent out of the governor’s administration at all. The auditor was just scathing.”
Since leaving office in 2011, Ritter has headed the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University.
The center was custom-made for Ritter to take the ideas behind the new energy economy nationwide; he spends much of his time traveling to promote clean energy initiatives to communities around the country.
The center was first proposed by Joe Zimlich, one of Ritter’s appointees to the CSU Board of Governors. Zimlich is also the CEO of the Bohemian Companies, which manages billionaire Pat Stryker’s nonprofit Bohemian Foundation. Stryker is a heavyweight donor to Democratic candidates.
Ritter was the only person considered for the job, according to a campus newspaper article.
The center is privately funded, in part by groups that promote alternative energy like wind and solar over fossil fuel. Among them are the Energy Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Bohemian Foundation.
These private foundations also pay Ritter’s $300,000 annual salary.