EPA head met with former lobbying clients despite saying he wouldn’t: report
Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Andrew Wheeler has been in meetings with representatives from three former lobbying clients since he started working at the agency.
E&E News reported Thursday that Wheeler met with biodiesel producer Darling Ingredients, agriculture company Archer Daniels Midland Co. and the South Coast Air Quality Management District, all of which were former clients from his time at Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting.
All of the meetings were between when Wheeler came to the EPA as deputy administrator in April and when he took over as acting administration earlier this month.
Wheeler signed a Trump administration ethics pledge when he started at the EPA, promising that he would not “participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related” to former clients for two years.
E&E said it is possible that the events didn’t qualify as “particular matters” under ethics standards.
But Wheeler told Bloomberg News in June that he would go farther than the pledge to avoid appearances of conflicts of interest.
“If I lobbied on something, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to participate,” he said.
Each of the events shows up on Wheeler’s calendar as a “stakeholder meeting,” E&E reported, and the EPA did not provide more details about them.
EPA told E&E that each of the meetings at issue does not violate Wheeler’s ethics pledge because the participants were not listed on his recusal statement.
“Therefore, none of these entities presents any pledge issue for Mr. Wheeler,” a spokesperson told the news outlet.
Wheeler took over from EPA chief Scott Pruitt following a multitude of ethics scandals that plagued his tenure at the agency.
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