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Oil and Auto Insiders Rampant in White House

May 23, 2018

Oil and Auto Insiders Rampant in White House

Dozens of Administration Officials, Including in Environment and Energy Departments, Have Ties to Dirty Industries

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Donald Trump has staffed White House agencies with auto and oil industry lobbyists, lawyers and former employees, and repeatedly met with the industry’s most powerful executives, according to a new report out today from Public Citizen.

Corporate Oil and Auto Insiders Fuel Trump Policies” finds 52 administration staff members with oil and gas ties, 15 with auto industry ties and 10 who have ties to both. Most are concentrated in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of the Interior and the White House itself, but persist in agencies throughout the administration.

“In the Trump administration, conflicted corporate insiders have taken the wheel,” said Rick Claypool, a Public Citizen research director and author of the report. “The polluter-friendly policies of Trump’s EPA, Energy Department and Interior Department are steering us toward a dead end into rip-off prices at the pump and poison in our air and water.”

Those officials include EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry and former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whose connections to the industries are well known. They also include:

  • Dennis Lee Forsgren, EPA deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Water, who served as a legal and policy adviser for HBW Resources, which staffed an advocacy group working on behalf of the Dakota Access Pipeline;

  • Erik Baptist, EPA senior deputy general counsel, who provided legal counsel to the American Petroleum Institute;

  • Gregory Katsas, deputy counsel to the president, who provided legal services to Chevron Corp;

  • Megan Bloomgren, Interior communications director, who was a partner at DCI Group, which counted among its clients ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy and which has promoted climate change skepticism;

  • Jon Huntsman Jr., Russian ambassador, who served as a board member for Chevron and Ford Motor Company; and

  • Matthew Z. Leopold, EPA general counsel, who provided legal services to Ford Motor Company.

The proliferation of oil and gas lobbyists in the Trump administration comes after the industry spent more than ever during the 2016 election, with oil and gas giving $100.5 million in campaign contributions, and the auto industry giving $39.6 million. A review also shows that Trump has met with at least eight executives and representatives from the oil industry and 28 from the auto industry. General Motors CEO Mary Barra got more face time than any other outside executive.

As Public Citizen separately reported on Monday, Trump’s policies also are driving up gas prices to four-year highs.