By Alan Zibel
The relationship between Donald Trump and the Koch brothers has gone from chilly to warm.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly sparred with Charles and David Koch, the billionaires who control the second-largest private company in America and run a right-wing political empire. As is typical for Trump, the tensions were evident on Twitter:
I turned down a meeting with Charles and David Koch. Much better for them to meet with the puppets of politics, they will do much better!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2016
Starting right after the election, political operatives and policy experts who have worked at numerous Koch-funded organizations have fanned out through the Trump Administration. They are influencing policies involving taxes, the environment, energy, education and health care — all in service of a far-right anti-government agenda.
A Public Citizen review of the Koch brothers’ connections to the Trump administration and policy agenda in Washington, D.C. finds:
- 44 Trump administration officials have close ties to the Koch brothers and their network of political groups, particularly Vice President Mike Pence, White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney.
- The bulk of Koch allies are in the White House, with 21 officials working there or nominated for White House jobs.
- Koch allies are also staffing jobs at the Environmental Protection Agency, Interior Department, Energy Department and the Treasury Department — reflecting the Kochs’ economic interest in reducing the size of government, lowering corporate taxes, loosening environmental regulations and opening up public land to oil and gas extraction.
- The Kochs have already achieved the majority of goals contained in “Roadmap to Repeal” — a policy document published in January 2017 by Freedom Partners, a Koch group.
Our list of Koch-tied officials is below.
|First Name||Last Name||Agency||Title||Koch Tie|
|Brian||Blasé||White House||Special assistant to the president for healthcare policy.||Economist who formerly worked as a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Koch-funded Mercatus Center.|
|Andrew||Bremberg||White House||Director of Domestic Policy Council||Former aide to Sen. Mitch McConnell who worked on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential campaign and consulted for Freedom Partners|
|Mark||Calabria||White House||Chief Economist, Vice President Mike Pence||Former director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank founded by Charles Koch in 1974|
|Andeliz||Castillo||White House||Deputy Director of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs for Vice President Mike Pence||Former chief of staff for the Libre Initiative, a Koch brothers group that promotes anti-government ideology to Latinos|
|Michael||Catanzaro||White House||Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Energy and Environmental Policy||Former Capitol Hill staffer who worked as a lobbyist representing fossil fuel interests, including Koch Industries.|
|Kellyane||Conway||White House||Counselor to the President||Consulted for Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners.|
|Ann||Donaldson||White House||Chief of Staff for the Office of the White House Counsel||Former lawyer for Jones Day where she had Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce and the Koch network’s data firm, i360 as clients.|
|Stephen||Ford||White House||Director of Speechwriting, Vice President Mike Pence||Former director of writing, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.|
|DJ||Gribbin||White House||Special Assistant for Infrastructure Policy||Former director of public sector business development for Koch Industries.|
|Kathleen||Hartnett White||White House||Director (nominated) White House Council on Environmental Quality||Senior Fellow at Koch-funded Texas Public Policy Foundation|
|Andy||Koenig||White House||Policy Special Assistant||Former Vice President of Policy, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce|
|Mario||Loyola||White House||Associate Director, White House Council on Environmental Quality||Senior Fellow, Texas Public Policy Foundation|
|Don||McGahn||White House||White House Counsel||Represented Freedom Partners and affiliated super PAC.|
|Mick||Mulvaney||White House||Director, Office of Management and Budget||While in Congress, a favorite candidate of Koch network.|
|Mike||Pence||White House||Vice President||Longstanding ties to the Koch network.|
|Chris||Prandoni||White House||Associate Director For Natural Resources, White House Council on Environmental Quality||Worked for Americans for Tax Reform, which has received Koch funding, and collaborated with Koch network|
|Neomi||Rao||White House||Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs||Founding director of Koch-funded Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School|
|Mike||Roman||White House||Director of Special Projects and Research||Former Freedom Partners, VP of Research|
|Darrin||Selnick||White House||Domestic Policy Council||Former senior advisor, Concerned Veterans for America, Koch veterans group|
|Bethany||Scully||White House||Legislative Affairs||Worked for Freedom Partners, Koch Industries|
|Marc||Short||White House||White House Director of Legislative Affairs||Former President of Freedom Partners|
|Travis||Fisher||Energy||Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability||Formerly an economist at the Institute for Energy Research, run by former Koch lobbyist Thomas Pyle|
|Alex||Fitzsimmons||Energy||Senior Advisor, chief of staff and chief policy advisor for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy||Former communications director at the Koch-Funded Fueling U.S. Forward and policy director at the Institute for Energy Research|
|Doug||Matheny||Energy||Special Advisor to Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy||Former Americans for Prosperity coordinator in Ohio’s sixth congressional district.|
|Mark||Menezes||Energy||Undersecretary for Management and Performance||Represented Koch Industries while working as a lobbyist|
|Rick||Perry||Energy||Energy Secretary||The former Texas governor has received $111,000 in Koch donations over his political career and has spoken at Koch network events.|
|Daniel||Simmons||Energy||Acting Assistant Secretary in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy||Former vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, director of the natural resources task force at American Legislative Exchange Council, and a research fellow at the Mercatus Center.|
|Susan||Combs||Interior||Assistant secretary of the Interior for policy, management and budget (Nominated)||Senior Visiting Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation|
|Doug||Domenech||Interior||Assistant Secretary of the Interior Insular Areas, Department of the Interior||Director of Fueling Freedom Project, Texas Public Policy Foundation|
|Daniel||Jorjani||Interior||Principal Deputy Solicitor/Special Assistant to the Secretary||General Counsel, Freedom Partners; Director of Research at Charles Koch Institute|
|Gary||Lawkowski||Interior||Counselor to the Solicitor||Legal Counsel, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce|
|Brendan||Quinn||Interior||Special Assistant, Office of the Deputy Secretary||Americans for Prosperity|
|Todd||Wynn||Interior||Director of Intergovernmental and External Affairs||Former head of energy, environment at American Legislative Exchange Council|
|Michael||Dourson||EPA||(Nominated) Head of EPA Office of Chemical Safety And Pollution Prevention||Worked on Koch-funded study.|
|Samantha||Dravis||EPA||Associate Administrator, EPA's Office of Policy||Former president of the Rule of Law Defense Fund, a group partly funded by the Koch brothers that coordinated efforts by energy companies and Republican attorneys general to challenge Obama-era environmental rules. Also was counsel to Freedom Partners.|
|Daisy||Letendre||EPA||Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategic Communications||Worked for a year at the Koch brothers’ millennial-outreach arm Generation Opportunity before becoming a press aide to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R.- Okla.)|
|Charles||Munoz||EPA||White House Liaison||Formerly field organizer for Americans for Prosperity and Trump campaign’s point person in Nevada.|
|Scott||Pruitt||EPA||Administrator||As Oklahoma Attorney General coordinated with Kochs on effort to roll back environmental regulations.|
|Christian||Rodrick||EPA||Special Assistant at the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs||A 2015 college graduate serving as special assistant in the EPA’s Congressional affairs department, participated in a Charles Koch Institute summer program.|
|Patrick||Traylor||EPA||Deputy Assistant Administrator at EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance||Represented Koch refiner Flint Hills Resources; Koch Nitrogen,|
|Betsy||DeVos||Education||Education Secretary||Conservative mega-donor allied with the Kochs on education issues.|
|Adam||Kissel||Education||Deputy Assistant Secretary for Higher Education Programs||Former senior program officer at the Charles Koch Foundation|
|Mike||Pompeo||CIA||CIA Director||Pompeo, who represented the Kochs’ hometown of Wichita, Kan. in Congress and has numerous ties to the brothers and has been referred to as the "Congressman from Koch."|
|Eli||Miller||Treasury||Chief of Staff||Americans for Prosperity Ohio Director|