Watch group says energy ministry official may have violated ethical obligations

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A senior Energy Ministry official faces charges of potential conflict of interest, after a watchdog said she suggested a model to advance the interests of an energy association of which she is the former CEO.

Kelly Speakes-Backman, who serves as Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, is a former CEO of the Energy Storage Association.

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Protect the Public’s Trust, a watchdog that identifies potential conflicts of interest, wrote to the Energy Department’s attorney general, referring to an April 16 panel on energy storage technology, in which he says Speakes-Backman “made several unnecessary mentions of his alumnus involved his participation in a major program initiative that would likely financially benefit his former employer and its members.” “

The letter, first reported by The Washington Free Beacon, highlights a number of remarks she made referring to her former employer, as well as the DOE’s political goals that the watchdog says are similar to initiatives proposed by ESA.

“In December 2020, while I was still at the Energy Storage Association, the DOE released the Great Energy Storage Challenge Roadmap,” she said at the event.

“I steal that a bit from my Energy Storage Association days but [energy storage] really provides a more resilient, efficient, sustainable and affordable network, ”she said at another point.

Watchdog says his comments “mentioning the Energy Storage Association by name while speaking in its official capacity at an event focused on the very products and services that the entity and its members sell and / or defend could be or perceived as an endorsement of this entity by the Department of Energy.

The watchdog letter also points to comments made to the panel by an ESA member, who says it will be difficult to refer to Speakes-Backman by her official title as he has worked closely with her for years. .

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PPT also highlights other events that suggest a conflict of interest, including another event in April in which Speakes-Backman gave a keynote address. The sponsor of his opening speech was an ESA “Leadership Circle Member”.

“Considered in light of the previous events discussed in this letter, Ms. Speakes-Backman’s public appearances suggest a tendency to advance the interests of her former employers and potentially support them,” the letter said. “At the very least, her participation helps create the impression that she may not be fully consulting with the Ministry’s Ethics Office or not providing enough information to receive proper advice and guidance prior to doing so. ‘accept such invitations. ”

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The Department of Energy did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News.

Representing Ralph Norman, SRC expressed concern to the Free Beacon about the relationship between Speakes-Backman and the Energy Storage Association.

“As more and more details continue to emerge, we need to ensure full transparency,” he told the outlet. “It is imperative that the American people understand that their leaders have their best interests in mind.”

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