‘Yes Or A No?’: Josh Hawley Picks Apart Energy Dept Loan Official Over Alleged Conflicts Of Interest

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Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri on Thursday grilled Jigar Shah, the director of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Programs Office (LPO), over Shah’s attendance at paid events for green energy businesspeople looking to receive LPO funds.

The exchange happened during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing about the DOE’s decision-making process for awarding funds allocated by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the bipartisan infrastructure law. Hawley questioned Shah about his appearances as a speaker at events, including some hosted by the Cleantech Leaders Roundtable, a green energy trade group that Shah founded in 2017, where business interests potentially seeking loans from the LPO had paid to be in attendance.

“So you do attend dinners with industry leaders where they pay to see you speak? Was that a yes or a no? I didn’t hear,” Hawley asked Shah. (RELATED: ‘Very Bad Look’: GOP Senator Grills Key Energy Dept Loan Official About His Ties To Green Energy Trade Group)

“I attend many, many events, some of which I’m invited to speak at,” Shah said in response, before Hawley asked him again whether attendees pay to be present at some of these events. “I have attended (events) where people pay to attend the event,” Shah said after another more direct follow-up from Hawley.

“Do you think that’s a good idea?” Hawley asked, before Shah emphasized the importance of meeting potential LPO applicants who seek to scale up their green technologies.

“Wait a minute … you think it’s a good idea to go to events where people are trying to get federal money, and they’re paying to see you?” Hawley questioned. Shah responded that he does not think people attend such events to see him.

“I’m not that important,” Shah said, a response that appears to have prompted audible laughter in the hearing room.

Shah founded a green energy trade group called the Cleantech Leaders Roundtable in 2017, and the organization’s influence and revenues have surged since Shah left to take over the LPO in 2021, according to The Washington Free Beacon. The LPO has about $400 billion at its disposal from the two pieces of legislation to subsidize green energy development.

The Cleantech Leaders Roundtable did not have a website four years ago, but it now hosts sold-out events featuring Shah for its paying members across the U.S. on a regular basis, according to the Beacon. In recent years, green energy firms linked to the Cleantech Leaders Roundtable have received cash made available by the LPO, and Shah’s office recently approved a $3 billion loan to a solar company led by the trade association’s board director, while several of the trade association’s corporate sponsorship partners have also received LPO dollars.

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