Federico F. Pena

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Federico Peña
Former United States Secretary of Transportation
Federico Fabian Peña is an American politician who was the United States Secretary of Transportation from 1993 to 1997 and United States Secretary of Energy from 1997 to 1998, during the presidency of Bill Clinton. Wikipedia
Born: March 15, 1947 (age 70), Laredo, TX
Education: University of Texas at Austin
Party: Democratic Party
Previous office: United States Secretary of Transportation (1993–1997)
Spouse: Cindy Velasquez (m. 2006), Ellen Hart Peña


Director since 2011
Senior Advisor, Colorado Impact Fund, Former U.S. Secretary of Energy and Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation
Mr. Peña has been a Senior Advisor to the Colorado Impact Fund since July 2014. In addition, he previously served as a senior advisor of Vestar Capital Partners, a global private equity firm headquartered in New York, from January 2009 until October 2016, and as a managing director of Vestar from 2000 to 2009. Prior to joining Vestar in 1998, he led the Department of Energy from 1997 to 1998 and the Department of Transportation from 1993 to 1997. He founded and was president and chief executive officer of Peña Investment Advisors, an asset management firm, from 1991 to 1993. Mr. Peña served as the mayor of the city and county of Denver, Colorado from 1983 to 1991 and in the Colorado House of Representatives from 1979 until 1983. He is a member of the board of directors of Sonic Corporation and a member of the board of trustees of the University of Denver. Mr. Peña earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas.

Wells Fargo Board Committees: Audit and Examination Committee, Corporate Responsibility Committee, Governance and Nominating Committee, and Risk Committee


Pena Resigns as Energy Secretary, Citing Concerns for Family

Federico F. Pena said today that he would resign as Energy Secretary in June and return to private life because the demands of being a Cabinet secretary were too much for his family.

Mr. Pena, 51, who was Transportation Secretary for President Clinton's first term in office, had put his house in Alexandria, Va., on the market last year in expectation of moving back to Colorado, when he was tapped as Energy Secretary 15 months ago.

His announcement today comes as his department faces decisions on half a dozen multibillion- dollar projects, but Mr. Pena said he hoped to make some of them before he left. Among the projects are finding a new way to make tritium, a radioactive and perishable component of nuclear bombs; building a factory to turn surplus bomb plutonium into fuel for civilian reactors; opening an underground disposal plant for plutonium wastes near Carlsbad, N.M., and storing wastes from civilian reactors at Yucca Mountain, Nev.

A lawyer and former Mayor of Denver, Mr. Pena came to the Energy Department job with little background in the department's business, which includes fields as diverse as nuclear weapons and research on new ways to make electricity. Energy Department officials fear that if his successor has a similar lack of background, many crucial decisions could be delayed for months. Some outside critics fear worse, that the Energy Department's career bureaucrats, who have a poor record in making decisions on major construction projects, will continue without effective oversight.

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Mr. Pena said he had told President Clinton of his plans over the weekend; senior staff members said he had informed them at a meeting this morning at 9.

''Ellen and I have three wonderful children and it is now time to focus on their futures,'' Mr. Pena said, as the youngest, Ryan, 9 months, crawled across the stage at an Energy Department auditorium, showing interest in rows of photographers. In the front row, Cristina, 6, and Nellia, 7, worked in coloring books.

Mr. Pena said he would return to employment in private business but had not determined what kind of job he would seek. In the past he had been rumored to have political ambitions in Colorado. But today he said he would not seek elective office and did not even know whether he and his family would return to Colorado.

At one point in questioning by reporters, Mr. Pena was asked whether he had been indicted or expected to be. He called the question ''ridiculous and silly.'' He derided ''questions like that that often try to embarrass public officials, that perhaps is driving people away from Government.'' The audience, mostly Energy Department staff members, broke into applause.

Mr. Pena's nomination as Energy Secretary was briefly held up while the Justice Department investigated whether he had improperly intervened, as Transportation Secretary, in a Coast Guard contract. In another case, the Justice Department investigated the timing of a $5 million payment to Mr. Pena's former investment company to manage a pension fund for the Southern California Rapid Transit District, after he was nominated to be Transportation Secretary. No wrongdoing was found in either case.

In the department, several officials said Elizabeth A. Moler, the Deputy Secretary of Energy, was a likely candidate to succeed Mr. Pena. Ms. Moler was widely reported to be the President's choice when he began his second term, but Mr. Clinton chose Mr. Pena.

Mr. Pena's brief tenure as Energy Secretary has been marked by notably better relations with the Congress than those of his predecessor, Hazel R. O'Leary. She was taken to task for expensive international trade missions and lax financial accounting, among other issues. Mr. Pena has continued her policy of declassifying cold-war-era documents and sought to make the department's far-flung empire of nuclear projects, most old and leaking radioactive materials, better neighbors. Among the milestones of his tenure was dismissing the management contractor at Brookhaven National Laboratory, in Upton, N.Y., for failing to keep track of creeping contamination in the groundwater.

Outside experts on the department gave Mr. Pena fair grades as secretary, but several faulted him for leaving.

''He hasn't given us a chance, or himself a chance,'' said Arjun Makhijani, director of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, who has been studying the department's environmental problems since the early 80's. ''It's most unfortunate that he took a job for which he did not have a substantial background, with political appointees this often happens, but then he is resigning before he has a chance to familiarize himself with the most important areas of his work.''

At the Brookings Institution, Stephen I. Schwartz, a visiting scholar and the director of the United States Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project, said, ''Most energy secretaries have a tenure of under two years. Whether or not he intended it, he just sort of became a caretaker secretary.''

Mr. Pena, addressing reporters this morning, seemed to be giving a swan song for his public service, listing among his accomplishments several in his job at the Transportation Department. One was to establish ''one level of safety'' for commuter planes and bigger airliners.

Asked what could be done to make top government jobs compatible with family life, he replied, ''If you talk to people who have come to Washington, whether members of Congress or members of the Administration, they all understand.''

''They all share the same pressures,'' he said. ''When I emphasize to them I want to focus on my family and their futures, there were lots of nods of understanding, approval and support.''


Former Denver Mayor Federico Pena speaks at the My Country, My Vote rally on Oct. 28, 2015.
By ALDO SVALDI | asvaldi@denverpost.com | The Denver Post
PUBLISHED: September 20, 2016 at 6:35 pm | UPDATED: September 21, 2016 at 12:32 pm

Former Denver mayor Federico Peña is taking heat for failing to catch and stop practices that resulted in the creation of 2 million bogus accounts at Wells Fargo & Co., where he is a director.

Banking industry analyst Michael Mayo on Monday called for Peña to step down as head of the bank holding company’s Corporate Responsibility Committee, which is tasked with monitoring “the company’s reputation generally, including with its customers.”

“To hold management accountable, we believe Wells should institute clawbacks for the head of Community Banking (Carrie Tolstedt), clawbacks and/or pay reduction for the CEO (John Stumpf), changes to its board for the head of the Corporate Responsibility Committee (Federico Peña), and questions or at least a statement from its lead director (Stephen Sanger),” Mayo, an analyst with CLSA, told Barrons.

Without admitting or denying guilt, Wells Fargo, which is the largest bank operating in Colorado, agreed to pay $185 million in fines to settle the case with federal regulators. It fired about 5,300 mostly low-level employees who set up the unauthorized accounts.

But critics want to see heads higher up roll, given employees were responding to intense pressures to cross-sell products and meet goals.

Tolstedt, who headed the unit responsible for the questionable accounts, received $9.05 million in salary, bonuses and stock awards last year. She stepped down in July and plans to retire at the end of the year with a $125 million golden parachute unless critics can find a way to cut the cord.

Peña took over the Corporate Responsibility Committee on March 1, replacing Judith Runstad. Fortune reported Runstad, a former chairwoman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, retired with $7.2 million in stock and option awards after spending 18 years as a director.


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Peña “is new in chairing that committee and risk issues like the sales practices aren’t limited to just that committee,” said Oscar Suris, a spokesman for Wells Fargo, who responded to an interview request with Peña.

In that sense, Peña appears to be a victim of bad timing. But Peña joined the Wells Fargo board in November 2011, meaning his supervisory tenure overlaps with the questionable sales practices. He serves on four of the board’s seven committees and made $320,027 in cash and stock awards last year, according to the company’s proxy statement.

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf told a Senate Banking Committee grilling him Tuesday that he became aware of the questionable practices in 2013 and the board was made aware of them in 2014.

“Not fast enough,” Stumpf testifed. “I apologize for that.”

After serving as Denver’s mayor from 1983 to 1991, Peña went on to serve as the secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation from 1993 to 1997 before moving over to lead the U.S. Department of Energy in 1997 and 1998.

Peña has served as director on the board of the fast-food restaurant chain Sonic Corp. since 2001 and is a senior advisor with private equity firm Vestar Capital Partners’ Denver office.