CONTACT: Jordan Libowitz
202-408-5565 | [email protected]
Washington — Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation William Wehrum appears to have violated both his ethics agreement and the Trump Administration’s ethics pledge by holding private meetings with his previous clients and by failing to recuse himself from issues involving his former law firm and recent clients, according to a complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with the Office of Inspector General at the EPA.
As a condition of his appointment, Wehrum signed both an ethics agreement and an ethics pledge barring him from working on issues involving his former employer or any recent former client. The ethics pledge also barred him from meeting with them, regardless of the subject of the meeting. Less than one month after being named assistant administrator, Wehrum delivered a presentation on EPA’s regulatory activities at a meeting hosted by his former law firm and attended by three former clients. In that same month, Wehrum also participated in EPA’s development of a memorandum adopting his former law firm’s arguments just before a critical litigation deadline in a lawsuit EPA had previously brought against one of the firm’s clients.
“Almost from the moment he began his job as a top environmental regulator, William Wehrum appears to have been working to advance the outside interests of his former law firm and clients inside EPA,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “In less than one month in his role, Wehrum managed to reverse EPA policy to adopt his former law firm’s legal position in pending litigation and deliver a private presentation to three former clients. Wehrum’s apparent failure to abide by ethics obligations is a worst case scenario for the revolving door that undermines EPA’s integrity and weakens public confidence in our government, and it must be investigated.”
CREW previously called on the Inspector General to investigate the inadequate handling of the many outrageous ethical issues that came to light under former Administrator Scott Pruitt’s tenure. Wehrum’s apparent ethics violations are further proof that systemic failures of the EPA’s ethics program have continued under the leadership of Administrator Andrew Wheeler. CREW filed two ethics complaints against Wheeler for also failing to recuse himself from issues he previously lobbied on and holding meetings with his former clients.