February 11, 2020

Yet another Trump appointee appears to have had a conflict of interest they failed to disclose. Peter Wright held a financial interest in chemical company DowDupont, Inc. for months while serving as an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official.

CREW has requested all EPA and Office of Government Ethics (OGE) records documenting Wright’s ownership of financial interest in DowDuPont and indications of the conflict, as well as any calendar entries and responsibilities or duties he performed in the time prior to his divestment. 

After joining the EPA in July 2018, Wright still held an interest in DowDupont until March 2019. He was allegedly unaware that he had not divested, failing to initially disclose the interest on his first financial disclosure report. OGE Director Emery Rounds flagged the conflict in a letter to the Senate committee in July 2019, yet Wright was confirmed two days later.

This wouldn’t be the first time that an appointee of this administration claimed ignorance while holding investments they should have divested and disclosed. In 2017, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross claimed to ethics officials that he had divested his assets in the process of becoming a member of Trump’s cabinet. Seven months later, he filed that he had made the mistake of overlooking his remaining stock in an investment firm for over a month after claiming they had been sold. In an administration under a president refusing to divest from his businesses, in turn generating thousands of conflicts of interest, these types of financial conflicts have unfortunately become commonplace.

The requested records would help determine whether Wright, now Assistant Administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management, violated conflict of interest laws or regulations while holding his prior positions at EPA. 

Read the requests here and here.

Photo by NRDC.