Pruitt, a Republican who was closely aligned with the oil and gas industry as an elected official in his home state of Oklahoma, proposed modest cuts last summer to production quotas for ethanol and other biofuels, despite promises from Trump to leave the Renewable Fuel Standard alone.
"Scott Pruitt has called on yet another fossil-fuel industry lobbyist ... to help him tear down important protections for the American people," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat on the Senate Environment Committee. "And the White House plays along, granting the lobbyist an ethics waiver."
Jeffrey M. Sands previously worked as a top lobbyist for Syngenta, a major pesticide manufacturer. Following a request from the EPA, McGahn determined it was "in the public interest" to allow Sands to work as Pruitt's senior adviser for agriculture.
Dennis "Lee" Forsgren, the deputy assistant administrator helping oversee the EPA's enforcement of clean water regulations, was allowed to work on the EPA's hurricane response efforts involving the Miccosukee, a Native American tribe in Florida for whom he was a registered lobbyist up until 2016.
"All EPA employees get ethics briefings when they start and continually work with our ethics office regarding any potential conflicts they may encounter while employed here," EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said when asked whether the ethics waivers violate the spirt of Trump's executive order.
At the White House, another former lobbyist with ties to the oil and gas industry is advising Trump.
Michael Catanzaro, special assistant to the president, was given a waiver to participate in policy matters relating to methane regulations and environmental programs including the Clean Power Plan, the Renewable Fuel Standard and the National Air Quality Standard.
The Treasury Department asked McGahn for three waivers. Anthony Sayegh, appointed as the assistant secretary for public affairs, previously worked as a Fox News contributor. His waiver allows him to "participate in matters involving his former client."
Brian Callahan, the top lawyer at Treasury, was granted a waiver concerning issues involving his former position as general counsel at Cooper and Kirk PLLC. The law firm represents Fairholme Funds, which recently filed a lawsuit against the Treasury Department and the Fair Housing Finance Agency.
McGahn's waiver allows Callahan to participate in discussions about policy decisions pertaining to housing finance reform, even though "some of these discussions could at some point touch upon issues that might impact the litigation."
The State Department got five waivers. The former law firm of Edward T. McMullen, the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, represented Boeing. The Swiss government recently announced its intent to purchase military equipment and accept bids from American companies.
Another waiver allows communications director Heather Nauert to work with employees of Fox News even though she used to work as a broadcast journalist for the network. Nauert is identified in the waiver, which was heavily redacted before release, by her legal name, Heather Norby.
At the Pentagon, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall G. Schriver got a waiver allowing him to "participate in any particular matter involving specific parties," including his former client: the Japanese government.
Health and Human Services asked for waivers for senior counselor to the secretary Keagan Lenihan, a registered lobbyist who recently worked for a pharmaceutical and health services company, and for HHS chief of staff Lance Leggitt, who recently lobbied on behalf of his law firm's health law practice group.
Agriculture Department policy adviser Kailee Tzacz is allowed to "participate personally and substantially in matters regarding the Dietary Guidelines for Americans," a guide that offers nutritional information and recommendations.
McGahn's waiver didn't offer much detail into the potential conflict Tzacz's appointment would pose. But other records show she most recently served as food policy director for the Corn Refiners Association, a trade organization representing producers of corn starch, corn oil and high fructose corn syrup.
Before that, she lobbied on behalf of SNAC International, a trade association for snack food manufacturers.
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Source : https://finance.yahoo.com/news/swamp-lobbyists-ethics-waivers-trump-053457969.html