April 20, 2018

Senate Democrats Call on President, Cabinet to Reveal Koch Infiltration of Trump Administration

DEMOCRATS SIGNAL SUSTAINED PUSH TO REVEAL KOCH CAPTURE OF EXECUTIVE AGENCIES

Washington, DC – In a series of letters, Senate Democrats are demanding answers from President Donald Trump and cabinet officials about the Koch brothers’ sweeping infiltration of the Trump administration.  The Senators’ demands are based on a December report to the wealthy donors of the Kochs’ Seminar Network detailing a series of policy wins benefitting Koch businesses and the billionaires themselves.  Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Tom Udall (D-NM) signed the letters to Trump and agency heads asking for documents that shed light on how the Kochs and their sophisticated network of front groups and operatives have manipulated Americans’ government.  

“Americans have a right to know if special interests are unduly influencing public policy decisions that have profound implications for public health, the environment, and the economy,” the Senators write in their letters. 

The Senators’ letters begin a broader effort to reveal the extent of the Koch brothers’ influence within the administration.  Next week, Whitehouse will lead a group of Senators in speeches on the Senate floor detailing the web of Koch-funded front groups advocating for business-friendly policies, sowing doubt in the public debate on important issues, and planting operatives within the halls of government.

The Kochs’ report outlines a range of extreme policies the Trump administration has executed or pursued, including undermining the Affordable Care Act and programs that provide health care to millions of Americans; attacks on essential environmental protections that ensure the health and safety of all Americans; eroding workers’ right to organize for better pay and working conditions; stacking federal courts with radical conservative judges to deliver consistently for the wealthy and corporations; privatizing the Department of Veterans Affairs; threating the promise of health care for our servicemembers and veterans; and a wildly unfair tax proposal designed to benefit the wealthiest few.

In addition to the White House, the Senators’ letters went to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, Acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Leandra English, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, and National Labor Relations Board Chairman Marvin Kaplan.

The Senators’ letter to Trump is below.  PDF copies of the letters are available here:

Donald J. Trump

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Trump:

We are writing to request information related to efforts by Charles and David Koch, Koch Industries, and the numerous groups they fund to influence decisions in your administration. 

The close ties between individuals serving in your administration and the Koch brothers’ network have been widely reported over the last year and a half.[1]  Long-standing members of the Koch network fill the ranks of the federal government, raising concerns about the network’s access to and influence over federal decision-making.  Americans have a right to know if special interests are unduly influencing public policy decisions that have profound implications for public health, the environment, and the economy.

Last December, a six-page report titled “Efforts in Government: Advancing Principled Public Policy” was distributed to the Seminar Network—a network of wealthy individuals organized by Charles and David Koch to fund their political and policy efforts.[2]  Among other things, this report outlined regulatory rollbacks and laws the Kochs considered successes during your first year.  The report notes, “In the first eleven months of President Trump’s Administration, the White House and Congress have closely followed the Network’s Roadmap to Repeal.” 

The Koch network is taking credit for the following actions taken by the White House:

  • review of the Antiquities Act and monument designations
  • infrastructure project permit streamlining
  • withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement
  • repeal of limits on short-term health insurance plans

So that we may better understand the role that the Kochs and their affiliated groups have played in shaping public policy decisions in your administration, we request the following information not later than May 15, 2018:

–          Any communications or documentation thereof (including but not limited to emails, memos, meeting notes, correspondence, and calendar items) between White House employees and any employee, member, or representative of the following organizations:

  • Koch Industries or any of its subsidiaries
  • the Seminar Network
  • Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Prosperity Foundation
  • Freedom Partners, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Freedom Partners Action Fund
  • Concerned Veterans for America
  • the LIBRE Initiative
  • Generation Opportunity
  • i360
  • Mercatus Center
  • Texas Public Policy Foundation
  • Americans for Tax Reform
  • The Heritage Foundation
  • National Federation of Independent Business

–          Any reports, documents, analyses, briefing materials, information, talking points, summaries, or other data pertaining to the review of the Antiquities Act and monument designations, infrastructure project permit streamlining, the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, the repeal of limits on short-term insurance plans, or other White House policy decisions that White House employees shared with or received from any employee or representative of any of the organizations listed in the previous request.

–          The following individuals at the White House have been employed by, affiliated with, or received compensation from the organizations previously listed: Andrew Bremberg, Michael Catanzaro, Kellyanne Conway, Ann Donaldson, DJ Gribbin, Edward Ajaeb, Brittany Baldwin, Andrew Koenig, Michael Roman, Bethany Scully, Marc Short, Brian Blasé, Mario Loyola, Chris Prandoni, Steven A. Groves, Paul Winfree, and Gregory Katsas.  For these individuals, please provide the following:

  • Executive Branch Personnel Public Financial Disclosure Reports, other Office of Government Ethics (OGE) Form 201 Covered Records, and any supplemental material.
  • Lists of all issues these individuals have worked on, are permitted to work on, and are prohibited to work on.
  • Any ethics agreements, recusals, waivers, or other documentation pertaining to which issues these individuals can and cannot work on.
  • These individuals’ counseling notes, emails, and any other communication between these individuals and the White House’s Ethics Office and OGE.
  • A copy of these individuals’ signed “Ethics Pledges.”

Thank you for your attention to this matter. 

###


[1] Public Citizen, The Koch Government: How the Koch Brothers’ Agenda has Infiltrated the Trump Administration, November 30, 2017, available online at https://www.citizen.org/sites/default/files/public-citizen-koch.pdf

[2] See, e.g., Lee Fang and Nick Surgey, “Koch Document Reveals Laundry List of Policy Victories Extracted from the Trump Administration,” The Intercept, February 28, 2018, available at https://theintercept.com/2018/02/25/koch-brothers-trump-administration/.

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