Gov. Newsom Appoints “Energy Czar” Ana Matosantos to Completely Transform PG&E

“PG&E as we know it cannot persist and continue,” proclaimed California governor Gavin Newsom last Friday. “It has to be completely transformed, culturally transformed, operationally transformed, with a safety culture first and foremost.”

Embattled and enflamed Californians might wonder how this complete transformation is to be achieved. On Friday, Gov. Newsom provided the answer when he named his cabinet secretary Ana Matosantos the new “Energy Czar.” Gov. Newsom is on record that his cabinet secretary is a “genius” and Capitol Weekly explains that Matosantos “makes the trains run on time.” But can the Energy Czar Ana transform Pacific Gas and Electric, and by implication, the state’s entire energy system?

A Puerto Rico native from a wealthy family, Matosantos earned a BA in political science and feminist studies from Stanford. Those were rather meager qualifications for state finance director, but Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger picked Matosantos for that post in 2009. In 2011, she was busted for drunk driving in Sacramento, but Gov. Jerry Brown refused to accept her resignation. Matosantos served nearly four years as Brown’s chief budget advisor, and her tenure was marked by “multibillion-dollar shortfalls.”

Covered California, the state’s wholly owned subsidiary of Obamacare, the so-called “Affordable Care Act,” then took on Matosantos at $120,000 for a six-month stint. Her performance did nothing to prevent Covered California from becoming what health journalist Emily Bazar described as “widespread consumer misery.”

In 2016, Congress passed the PROMESA legislation to deal with Puerto Rico’s $72 billion debt, and the legislation created the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Board. San Francisco Democrat Nancy Pelosi favored Matosantos for a board post, and President Obama duly appointed her. It was not disclosed that Matosantos was also on the board of the Matosantos Commercial Corporation, owned by her wealthy family, with deep interests in the energy business on the island.

According to Christopher D. Coursen, former counsel of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, the Oversight Board “has been a complete failure and has not achieved anything of significance.” President Trump and Congress need to replace members “clearly unfit to serve” with those dedicated to restoring fiscal responsibility in Puerto Rico. “Given the recent evidence of blatant conflicts of interest of Ana Matosantos,” Coursen said, “her removal seems like the best place to start. And that review and her subsequent removal needs to happen now.”

By all indication it didn’t, until Gov. Gavin Newsom snapped up Ana Matosantos, a person of “unrivaled professional accomplishment coupled with a personal determination to serve the public good.” Plus, the feminist studies alum is a “genius” so rest easy all you Californians dealing with fires and blackouts. A wealthy, ruling-class political appointee of meager qualifications and a dubious record of performance is now your “Energy Czar.”

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at The Daily Caller.
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