The Proterra Scandal Deepens: Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg Team up to Promote Electric Bus Company Mired in Jennifer Granholm Connections

Vice President Kamala Harris (center) tours the electric vehicle operations at Charlotte Area Transit Systems bus garage with CATS CEO John Lewis (right) in Charlotte, North Carolina on December 2, 2020. - Vice President Harris is in Charlotte discussing the impacts of the 1 trillion dollar Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill passed …
LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joined forces on Thursday to promote Proterra, a Burlingame, California-based electric bus company that Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm previously sat on the board of and held stock in, which garnered her $1.6 million when she finally divested them 157 days after her nomination.

This happened during an event at Charlotte Area Transit System in Charlotte, North Carolina that was meant to tout the “marquee legislation” in President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda — the infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package — from two of Biden’s highest-profile cabinet members.

While at the event, not only were the Proterra busses used as a backdrop but for their event, but Harris even sat in the driver’s seat and honked the horn with Buttigieg in the back and sang, “The wheels on the bus go round and round,” which an NBC-affiliated television station, WYFF, caught on camera. A pool reporter with the vice president reported Harris called the busses “very user-friendly” and was amazed over how quick the breaks work on the busses.

However, this is not the first time Proterra or Proterra related products have been on the center stage during an event with officials from the Biden administration. Granholm — who oversees moving the country toward an electric vehicle transportation system and enjoys newfound powers after the passage of the infrastructure package — along with the administration has been criticized for promoting Proterra in their official capacities.

Breitbart News extensively reported on the question of Granholm’s relationship with Proterra came under scrutiny again on April 20, when President Biden raised the company’s profile by virtually touring Proterra’s Greenville, South Carolina, factory to support the administration’s push for electric buses. The day before, on April 19, Harris toured Thomas Built Buses, a subsidiary of Daimler, heavily invested in Proterra. Both of which happened before Granholm sold her stake in Proterra, 88 days after her confirmation and 157 days after her nomination, where she reportedly netted a capital gain of $1.6 million, according to the Department of Energy.

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After the $1.6 million worth of stock was sold, Biden traveled to a Municipal Transit Utility in Wisconsin on June 29 to promote his infrastructure plan where his tour of the Proterra factory “in the Carolinas,” was mentioned. Then on November 1, both Granholm and Harris traveled to New York to announce $127 million in grant recipients from the Department of Energy. Both Granholm and Harris stood in front of a backdrop of Proterra buses. Breitbart News reported that over 60 percent of the grants when to  Proterra-linked companies.

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However, it remains unclear if Granholm sought or was granted an ethics waiver regarding the Biden administration’s promotion of Proterra at any point in time since Granholm is required to consult ethics officials and receive proper approval before participating in any matter involving “specific parties which [she] knows is likely to affect the financial interests of a member of [her] household.”

While it remains unclear as to why the Biden administration continues to promote Proterra, the company announced in June of 2019 that the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) would be buying busses to be used with their ground transportation. However, the busses are full of problems.

Vice President Kamala Harris (left) and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (right) tour the electric vehicle operations at Charlotte Area Transit Systems bus garage in Charlotte, North Carolina on December 2, 2020. (LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks after touring the electric vehicle operations at Charlotte Area Transit Systems bus garage with Vice President Kamala Harris, on December 2, 2021, in Charlotte, North Carolina. (LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)

(LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)

(LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)

“It appears as though the Biden Administration is continuing to promote Proterra, the company connected to Energy Secretary Granholm. It is a positive sign that Transportation Secretary Buttigieg has replaced Secretary Granholm considering her conflicts of interest with the firm,” Michael Chamberlain, the director of the government watchdog group, Protect the Public’s Trust, told Breitbart News exclusively.

“We hope this is a harbinger that the Administration is moving in the right direction with respect to potential conflicts of interest involving high-ranking appointees. Despite this seemingly positive development there remain several outstanding complaints filed by Protect the Public’s Trust regarding Administration officials’ potential conflicts,” Chamberlain added.

The Washington Free Beacon reported that the city of Philadelphia, which spent $24 million for the 25 new Proterra buses, had to sideline the entire fleet by the city’s transit authority in February of last year, “due to both structural and logistical problems—the weight of the powerful battery was cracking the vehicles’ chassis, and the battery life was insufficient for the city’s bus routes.” The report noted that the city brought the issues to Proterra, but they failed to address the concerns. Additionally, in Duluth, Minnesota, the buses were also taken off of the road since the bus’s brakes, which the vice president promoted on Thursday, could not handle the city’s hills.

As a result of this, the city of Charlotte, using grants from Bloomberg Philanthropies and others, in order to “kick-off a 12-to-18-month pilot program to test 18 BEB vehicles from three different manufacturers,” one being eTransEnergy, to be used around the city.

Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter.

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