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
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
Pena Resigns as Energy Secretary, Citing Concerns for Family
By MATTHEW L. WALDAPRIL 7, 1998
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
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
Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story
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
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
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 | firstname.lastname@example.org | 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
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
SEPTEMBER 20, 2016 Wells Fargo CEO pummeled on Capitol Hill over
SEPTEMBER 17, 2016 Wells Fargo scandal hurts Wall Street’s bonuses
SEPTEMBER 8, 2016 Wells Fargo to pay $185 million, fire 5,300 workers
over allegations employees opened fake accounts
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
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
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.