Oil executives were recorded boasting about their access to President Donald Trump after he appointed an industry lawyer to the number two position at the Interior Department.
In a report for Politico, Reveal's Lance Williams wrote that the June 2017 recording featured oil lobbyists laughing at how much access they had to Trump after the Independent Petroleum Association of America's former lawyer David Bernhardt was nominated to deputy secretary of the Interior Department.
"We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues," Dan Naantz, political director of the IPAA, told the room of 100 executives at the Laguna Niguel Ritz-Carlton event.
“It’s really a new thing for us,” Barry Russell, IPAA’s CEO, said of the industry's new then-new ally in the Trump Administration. “For example, next week I’m invited to the White House to talk about tax code. Last week we were talking to [then-Environmental Protection Agency] Secretary Pruitt, and in about two weeks we have a meeting with [then-Interior] Secretary Zinke. So we have unprecedented access to people that are in these positions who are trying to help us, which is great.”
Williams noted that the conference attendees sounded "almost giddy" when discussing how friendly the Trump administration is to the oil industry, especially after the Obama administration's tougher stance.
Bernhardt, the report noted, is now in line to run the Interior Department and is currently its acting secretary. In a statement, the department said he "has had no communication or contact with either Barry Russell or Dan Naatz."
Read the entire report via Politico.