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The Koch Government: These 44 Trump Officials Have Close Ties to Right-Wing Billionaire Brothers

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:

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 NameLast NameAgencyTitleKoch Tie
BrianBlaséWhite HouseSpecial 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.
AndrewBrembergWhite HouseDirector of Domestic Policy CouncilFormer aide to Sen. Mitch McConnell who worked on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential campaign and consulted for Freedom Partners
MarkCalabriaWhite HouseChief Economist, Vice President Mike PenceFormer director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank founded by Charles Koch in 1974
AndelizCastilloWhite HouseDeputy Director of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs for Vice President Mike PenceFormer chief of staff for the Libre Initiative, a Koch brothers group that promotes anti-government ideology to Latinos
MichaelCatanzaroWhite HouseSpecial Assistant to the President for Domestic Energy and Environmental PolicyFormer Capitol Hill staffer who worked as a lobbyist representing fossil fuel interests, including Koch Industries.
KellyaneConwayWhite HouseCounselor to the PresidentConsulted for Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners.
AnnDonaldsonWhite HouseChief of Staff for the Office of the White House CounselFormer lawyer for Jones Day where she had Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce and the Koch network’s data firm, i360 as clients.
StephenFordWhite HouseDirector of Speechwriting, Vice President Mike PenceFormer director of writing, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.
DJGribbinWhite HouseSpecial Assistant for Infrastructure PolicyFormer director of public sector business development for Koch Industries.
KathleenHartnett WhiteWhite HouseDirector (nominated) White House Council on Environmental QualitySenior Fellow at Koch-funded Texas Public Policy Foundation
AndyKoenigWhite HousePolicy Special AssistantFormer Vice President of Policy, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce
MarioLoyolaWhite HouseAssociate Director, White House Council on Environmental QualitySenior Fellow, Texas Public Policy Foundation
DonMcGahnWhite HouseWhite House CounselRepresented Freedom Partners and affiliated super PAC.
MickMulvaneyWhite HouseDirector, Office of Management and BudgetWhile in Congress, a favorite candidate of Koch network.
MikePenceWhite HouseVice PresidentLongstanding ties to the Koch network.
ChrisPrandoniWhite HouseAssociate Director For Natural Resources, White House Council on Environmental QualityWorked for Americans for Tax Reform, which has received Koch funding, and collaborated with Koch network
NeomiRaoWhite HouseAdministrator, Office of Information and Regulatory AffairsFounding director of Koch-funded Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School
MikeRomanWhite HouseDirector of Special Projects and ResearchFormer Freedom Partners, VP of Research
DarrinSelnickWhite HouseDomestic Policy CouncilFormer senior advisor, Concerned Veterans for America, Koch veterans group
BethanyScullyWhite HouseLegislative AffairsWorked for Freedom Partners, Koch Industries
MarcShortWhite HouseWhite House Director of Legislative AffairsFormer President of Freedom Partners
TravisFisherEnergyAssistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy ReliabilityFormerly an economist at the Institute for Energy Research, run by former Koch lobbyist Thomas Pyle
AlexFitzsimmonsEnergySenior Advisor, chief of staff and chief policy advisor for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable EnergyFormer communications director at the Koch-Funded Fueling U.S. Forward and policy director at the Institute for Energy Research
DougMathenyEnergySpecial Advisor to Assistant Secretary for Fossil EnergyFormer Americans for Prosperity coordinator in Ohio’s sixth congressional district.
MarkMenezesEnergyUndersecretary for Management and PerformanceRepresented Koch Industries while working as a lobbyist
RickPerryEnergyEnergy SecretaryThe former Texas governor has received $111,000 in Koch donations over his political career and has spoken at Koch network events.
DanielSimmonsEnergyActing Assistant Secretary in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable EnergyFormer 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.
SusanCombsInteriorAssistant secretary of the Interior for policy, management and budget (Nominated)Senior Visiting Fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation
DougDomenechInteriorAssistant Secretary of the Interior Insular Areas, Department of the InteriorDirector of Fueling Freedom Project, Texas Public Policy Foundation
DanielJorjaniInteriorPrincipal Deputy Solicitor/Special Assistant to the SecretaryGeneral Counsel, Freedom Partners; Director of Research at Charles Koch Institute
GaryLawkowskiInteriorCounselor to the SolicitorLegal Counsel, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce
BrendanQuinnInteriorSpecial Assistant, Office of the Deputy SecretaryAmericans for Prosperity
ToddWynnInteriorDirector of Intergovernmental and External AffairsFormer head of energy, environment at American Legislative Exchange Council
MichaelDoursonEPA(Nominated) Head of EPA Office of Chemical Safety And Pollution PreventionWorked on Koch-funded study.
SamanthaDravisEPAAssociate Administrator, EPA's Office of PolicyFormer 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.
DaisyLetendreEPASenior Advisor for Policy and Strategic CommunicationsWorked for a year at the Koch brothers’ millennial-outreach arm Generation Opportunity before becoming a press aide to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R.- Okla.)
CharlesMunozEPAWhite House LiaisonFormerly field organizer for Americans for Prosperity and Trump campaign’s point person in Nevada.
ScottPruittEPAAdministratorAs Oklahoma Attorney General coordinated with Kochs on effort to roll back environmental regulations.
ChristianRodrickEPASpecial Assistant at the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental AffairsA 2015 college graduate serving as special assistant in the EPA’s Congressional affairs department, participated in a Charles Koch Institute summer program.
PatrickTraylorEPADeputy Assistant Administrator at EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance AssuranceRepresented Koch refiner Flint Hills Resources; Koch Nitrogen,
BetsyDeVosEducationEducation SecretaryConservative mega-donor allied with the Kochs on education issues.
AdamKisselEducationDeputy Assistant Secretary for Higher Education ProgramsFormer senior program officer at the Charles Koch Foundation
MikePompeoCIACIA DirectorPompeo, 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."
EliMillerTreasuryChief of StaffAmericans for Prosperity Ohio Director