Rats leaving sinking ship: DOE loses a crony capitalist

With Republicans controlling the House  of Representatives and able to subpoena officials, certain Obama administration officials are heading for the hills. The New York Times reports on the latest exodus of Obama appointees. This time the Department of Energy is losing acting Undersecretary of Energy Cathy Zoi:

A trio of top officials, including acting Undersecretary of Energy Cathy Zoi, are stepping down from the Department of Energy, Secretary Steven Chu announced in an agency memo set to be released today.

Zoi, who also serves as assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy (EERE), will be leaving the agency on March 10 to head to a private-sector post in California. In

Who is Cathy Zoi and why would anyone be interested in her career?

She was the "ex-CEO of Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection and, while in government service maintained major investments in "green " companies that benefited directly from her decisions", reported Christopher Horner at Pajamas Media back in June, 2010 / . Among those investments, according to Horner are:

...shares in Serious Materials, Inc., the previously sleepy, now bustling, friend of the Obama White House whose public policy operation is headed by her husband. Between them, Zoi and her husband hold 120,000 shares in Serious Materials, as well as stock options. Reporter John Stossel has already explored what he sees as the "crony capitalism" implied by Zoi being so able to influence the fortunes of a company to which she is so closely associated.

In addition, the disclosure forms reflect that Zoi holds between $250,000 and $500,000 in "founders shares" in Landis+Gyr, a Swiss "smart meter" firm. She also still owns between $15,000 and $50,000 in ordinary shares.

"Smart meters," put simply, are electric meters that return information about customer power usage to the power company immediately and allow a power company to control the amount of power a customer can consume. These smart meters are a central component of the Obama administration's plans to reduce electricity consumption as part of the "smart grid."

In a rare moment of candor, Obama "Energy Czar" Carol Browner said to US News & World Report last year: "We need to make sure that ...[e]ventually, we can get to a system where an electric company will be able [sic] to hold back some of the power so that maybe your air conditioner won't operate at its peak, you'll still be able to cool your house, but that'll be a savings to the consumer." (emphasis added)

Clearly, DoE funding to encourage the adoption of "smart meters" would very likely lead to much increased sales by Landis+Gyr - and a potential windfall for Zoi

The New York Times mentions nothing about Zoi's conflicts of interest. Her departure may be a sign that she sees greener pastures elsewhere now that Republicans have taken over the House and she might be subject to inquiries regarding her conflicts from Chairmen of various committees, particular from Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who has expressed a strong interest in investigation corruption in the administration.

Perhaps Zoi saw the writing on the wall and got out of Dodge when the timing was good. Perhaps due to some lucrative spot in "private industry" (there is very little true "private industry" when it comes to green schemes, since they are heavily dependent on Democrats in government)? Maybe, Obama and company are cleaning up their act before public revelations mar his reelection chances.
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