In a city full of conflicts of interest, this one ranks near the top of the "Most Blatant Ever." Robin Roy is a senior executive of Serious Materials, a California-based windows maker that was virtually unknown within its industry until last year when President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden began praising it as, in the latter's words, the "poster child of green industry."
Actually, Serious Materials is at the center of a grubby new conflicts of interest scandal in the White House because Assistant Secretary of Energy Cathy Zoi, Roy's wife, just happens to be the Obama appointee in charge of the government's crash weatherization program.
The Freedom Foundation of Minnesota and its investigative reporter Tom Steward has been looking into the Zoi-Roy connection for several months. Here's what they found:
"Last year Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA or the so-called Stimulus Bill). The U.S. Department of Energy’s office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) received $16.8 billion of those ARRA funds to be used to promote green energy and conservation programs including the popular $1,500 tax credit for homeowners who install energy-efficient windows. The Assistant Secretary of Energy, Cathy Zoi, is responsible for oversight in disbursing these stimulus funds.
"Ms. Zoi is married to Robin Roy, a top executive at Serious Materials, a privately held manufacturer of 'sustainable green building materials' located in California. On the Executive Branch Personnel Public Financial Disclosure submitted by Ms. Zoi to the White House Ethics office as part of her confirmation, Ms. Zoi disclosed ownership with her spouse of 120,000 vested and unvested stock options in Serious Materials, a company her office regulates and that she may profit from."
In other words, Zoi complied with the letter of the law by disclosing her interest in her husband's employer. But has she observed the spirit of the government's ethics laws, which are intended to prevent conflicts of interest, real and apparent? Well, the White House has specifically praised Serious Materials in an official news release, and the company chairman has participated in a 22-minute news conference with Obama. The company is also the recipient of a special tax break and the government has ordered so much of its products that the firm can't keep up with demand.
John Stossel of Fox Business News, whose nationally syndicated column begins in The Washington Examiner in February, calls Serious Materials and its relationship with the Obama administration an illustration of "crony capitalism." Stossel's report aired last night.
The Freedom Foundation's explanatory video, which demonstrates the close relationship between Serious and this White House, is below: