Watchdog Again Calls for Investigation of EPA Chief Andrew Wheeler for Failing to Disclose Lobbying Contacts
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 12, 2019
Contact: Bryan Dewan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (“CfA”), a nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, called on federal officials to investigate whether Andrew Wheeler, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), and his former lobbying firm, Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting (“Faegre Baker”), violated the Lobbying Disclosure Act (“LDA”) by failing to disclose an April 2017 meeting with an Interior Department official regarding the borders of Bears Ears National Monument.
CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens said, “Less than a month before the Interior Department began studying the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument, Andrew Wheeler, who was at the time a registered lobbyist, brought his client, a uranium mining company, to meet with a senior official at the Interior Department. Alarmingly, Mr. Wheeler and his firm did not disclose the meeting on their lobbying disclosure reports. Federal officials should investigate why Mr. Wheeler’s firm filed inaccurate disclosure reports.”
Last week, Roll Call reported that on April 5, 2017, Mr. Wheeler met with an Interior Department official about changing the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument. Mr. Wheeler described his client in an email, stating, “They have two uranium facilities bordering each side of Bears Ears national monument in Utah.” Subsequently, Mr. Wheeler, along with an Energy Fuels executive and another lobbyist at Faegre Baker Daniels, met with Kathleen Benedetto, a senior adviser to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
However, neither Faegre Baker’s original Second Quarter 2017 Lobbying Disclosure Report, nor its amended reports, disclosed the meeting. By failing to properly disclose their lobbying contacts with the Interior Department, Faegre Baker and Mr. Wheeler appear to have violated the LDA.
Notably, the subject of the meeting was an extremely controversial issue that is being investigated by a congressional committee and is the subject of several lawsuits. Given that Faegre Baker failed to disclose this meeting on three different disclosure reports, the omission may have been intentional, which would be a violation of the False Statements Act. CfA’s complaint calls on the Secretary of the Senate, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to investigate the inaccurate disclosures.
CfA previously requested an investigation into Mr. Wheeler and Faegre Baker for filing inaccurate lobbying disclosures. Mr. Wheeler and Faegre Baker had failed to disclose meeting with Interior Department officials in the third quarter of 2017. In response to CfA’s earlier complaint, Faegre Baker filed amended lobbying forms admitting they had filed inaccurate reports.
Mr. Stevens elaborated, “The continued inaccuracies of Faegre Baker’s Lobbying Disclosure Reports raise questions about whether Mr. Wheeler and his firm intentionally filed inaccurate reports to conceal their lobbying on a controversial issue. If Andrew Wheeler or Faegre Baker knowingly and willfully misled Congress and the public, they must be held accountable.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.