Watchdog: Trump ally Carl Icahn violating lobbying rules

A watchdog group is formally accusing billionaire investor Carl Icahn, an ally and special adviser to President Trump, of improperly lobbying while not officially registered to do so.

Public Citizen’s Wednesday complaint to Senate and House officials cites Icahn’s role in advocating for a change to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ethanol mandate, which would benefit a fuel refining company that he owns.

Trump named Icahn in December as a special adviser on regulatory policy, an unpaid position. Icahn owns Icahn Enterprises, which is the majority shareholder of CVR Energy, a fuel refiner that has to pay for ethanol blending credits.

ADVERTISEMENT
Icahn has pushed for a change in EPA policy to make fuel wholesalers responsible for complying with the ethanol rules. The Trump administration is considering an executive order to implement that change, which Icahn has said would save his company hundreds of millions of dollars.

“The factual record shows that Mr. Icahn played a leading role shaping the Trump campaign’s position on the point of obligation for the [renewable fuel standard], and served to ‘vet’ candidates to run the EPA, the agency in charge of administrating the RFS,” Public Citizen, a left-leaning consumer advocacy organization, wrote in its complaint.

“It is not lobbying to advise a candidate, but once Trump became president, Trump then became a covered official subject to the lobbying disclosure law.”

Neither Icahn nor CVR has registered to lobby under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. Public Citizen is asking the House and Senate to formally investigate the matter.

A small amount of advocacy is allowed without registering, but the group said CVR and Icahn have likely exceeded that threshold.

Icahn on Wednesday afternoon responded to the complaint in a piece written for The Hill.