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March 8, 2017

Public Citizen Responds to Icahn Attack

Note: Carl Icahn today responded in a Hill op-ed to Public Citizen’s call for an investigation into whether Icahn Enterprises, CVR Energy and their related affiliates violated the Lobbying Disclosure Act. Below are reactions from Public Citizen experts.

“The fact that Carl Icahn continues to believe that there’s nothing wrong with his inherent conflict of interest is stunning. This is not about the underlying merits of the Bush-era law (the Renewable Fuel Standard). This instead has everything to do with the absence of transparency and the presence of massive financial conflicts of interest posed by Icahn’s special adviser role. An independent investigation is needed to determine whether he and his companies are in compliance with the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

It is wildly inappropriate for someone with a significant vested interest in the repeal of a regulation to be appointed as an adviser to the president and then to offer advice on the fate of that regulation.

I encourage Mr. Icahn to debate us over this matter on live television.”

- Tyson Slocum, director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program

“Carl Icahn, who is a special adviser to President Donald Trump for regulatory policy, has called for an investigation into Public Citizen and the ‘dark forces’ behind a ‘witch hunt,’ which is what he calls our request for an investigation of whether he and his companies have failed to comply with the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

The thin-skinned Carl Icahn should understand a few things. First, there are no mysterious ‘dark forces’ at work here. Public Citizen has a decades-long record of seeking to ensure transparency in government and rooting out corruption. We alone initiated the request for an investigation into Icahn’s advocacy on the ethanol policy.

Second, there’s no ‘witch hunt.’ We are requesting an investigation because Icahn and his companies have not registered as lobbyists, and based on extensive news reporting, it seems likely that one or both were required to do so under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. We don’t know if there was a violation, but we know enough to ask for an investigation.

The real issue here goes far beyond lobbying registration rules. Donald Trump has conferred a quasi-governmental position on Carl Icahn, but Icahn and Trump have maneuvered to enable Icahn to perform this role while he maintains his vast business holdings. Icahn has then used his special advisory role to push for a rule change that would directly benefit his company. The rule change is worth hundreds of millions to Icahn. The value of his company jumped $126 million the day after news broke of his proposed change to the ethanol rules.

This is pure, fully distilled conflict of interest.

Candidate Trump campaigned on a platform of ending cronyism and corruption. President Trump seems to have a different view.”

- Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen

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