Firm admits Wheeler lobbied to slash Utah monument

By: Corbin Hiar, E&E News, September 4, 2018

The lobbying firm that previously employed acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has quietly acknowledged his efforts to persuade the Trump administration to shrink Bears Ears National Monument.

In a series of Lobbying Disclosure Act filing amendments made last week, Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting also revealed that Wheeler had lobbied for three clients longer than previously reported and worked on a team that lobbied EPA — although the firm and agency deny that Wheeler himself lobbied EPA.

Wheeler’s role in urging the Trump administration to scale back Utah’s Bears Ears monument on behalf of uranium mining client Energy Fuels Resources Inc. was first uncovered by The Washington Post last year.

Citing Interior Department calendar records, the Post reported that Wheeler and an Energy Fuels executive met in July 2017 with two now former top Interior policy advisers, Downey Magallanes and Vincent DeVito.

But disclosures Faegre filed for Energy Fuels didn’t show Wheeler still working on the account at that time or lobbying the Interior Department. That changed last Wednesday when Faegre amended its third-quarter filing for 2017 to note that Wheeler and his team lobbied Interior on “national monument boundaries.”

The update came in the wake of a request by the […] Campaign for Accountability for congressional officials to investigate whether Faegre and Wheeler violated the lobbying law requirements by failing to disclose that Interior meeting (E&E News PM, Aug. 10).

The same third-quarter amendment shows Wheeler’s three-person team also lobbied EPA on “air emissions rules” for Energy Fuels. An amendment for the second quarter of 2017, also filed last Wednesday, added the same agency and issue.

Yet the firm insists that Wheeler only lobbied Congress on “general energy issues related to uranium mining and milling” — the other specific lobbying issues listed on the updated forms.

“Faegre Baker Daniels reviewed reports previously filed under the Lobbying Disclosure Act and added additional detail via amendments,” spokeswoman Marylee Moore said in an email. “Andrew Wheeler was not involved in lobbying the EPA on behalf of any clients in Q2 and Q3 2017 and was not involved in air rule issues.”

Two other amended forms filed by Faegre last week show that Wheeler continued to lobby for coal giant Murray Energy Corp. and cheesemaker Sargento Foods Inc. sometime between July 1, 2017, when the third quarter started, and the second week of August 2017, when he completely deregistered as a lobbyist, according to EPA spokesman John Konkus.

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