House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) called Energy Secretary Steven Chu a hypocrite on Twitter Tuesday for leaving a hearing in an SUV.
But the Energy Department hit back at Issa Tuesday, noting that the fuel-efficient SUV is part of the security detail provided to cabinet secretaries.
“Just like they did in their three hour hearing, Congressional critics are distorting the facts to drive a false and misleading agenda,” Energy Department spokesman Damien LaVera said in a statement. “This photo shows the Secretary getting into a single, flex fuel vehicle which – as the Chairman knows – is used for security.”
Chu testified before Issa’s committee earlier Tuesday during a tense hearing on the Energy Department’s embattled loan program.
Shortly after the hearing, Issa suggested Chu was being hypocritical for riding in a gas-guzzling SUV after touting the administration’s plans to promote fuel-efficient vehicles.
“@Energy Secretary Chu: not practicing what he preaches leaving today’s #energy hearing #hypocrisy,” Issa wrote on Twitter, linking to a photograph of Chu getting into a black SUV outside the Rayburn House Office Building.
Chu has said that he does not own a car, but The Daily Caller reported last month his wife owns a BMW.
Republicans alleged at Tuesday’s hearing that Chu mismanaged the loan program and claimed that the administration approved loan guarantees to please Obama’s campaign donors.
The Energy secretary, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, rejected the GOP’s allegations, insisting that the loan applications were reviewed on the merits.
A year-long House Energy and Commerce Committee investigation has uncovered no evidence that the Solyndra loan was granted for political reasons. But it has uncovered documents that are embarrassing and politically damaging for the White House, including that officials raised questions about the wisdom of granting the loan guarantee.