The Trump Administration is Filling Up With Koch Allies


On the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump boasted that he had no need for the Koch brothers, claiming to have rejected meetings with them and calling his Republican primary opponents “puppets” for meeting with the Kochs.

Yet, today, Trump’s transition team and Cabinet are quickly filling with a number of Koch affiliates, confidantes, and business associates.

Politico has called it Trump’s Koch administration. Talking Points Memo noted that “Behind Make America Great, the Koch agenda has returned with a vengeance.” Others have called Trump an unwitting “puppet” of the Koch brothers.

On the LittleSis network map embedded below, you can see how Trump’s top officials and his energy, climate, and environment staff are tied to the Koch brothers and their donor networks. A full survey of all Koch-ties in Trump’s transition team and Cabinet would feature a dozen or so more names—including Mike Pompeo and Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominees for CIA director and Attorney General, respectively—and look even more cluttered than the map you see. For the sake of navigability and clarity, the top staff and those most directly tied to energy and the environment are included in this map created for KochVsClean, a project of DeSmog.

Scroll and zoom on the map to explore all the connections, or click “Next” to zoom in on some of the featured relationships.


The Inner Circle: Mike Pence, Kellyanne Conway, and Reince Preibus

Vice President-Elect Mike Pence has been a favorite of the Kochs for years, and his Chief of Staff Marc Short recently ran the Kochs’ political umbrella group Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.

Kellyanne Conway, through her polling company, has done work for Pence and for Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-funded advocacy group.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus formed close ties with the Kochs while coordinating with the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Properity on voter caging efforts. Priebus’s RNC was described by AlterNet as a “wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch’s Americans for Prosperity.”

The Koch Industries Connections: Michael McKenna and Michael Catanzaro

Michael McKenna and Michael Catanzaro were both original members of Trump’s Department of Energy transition team, and both had recent lobbying contracts with Koch Industries. Both McKenna and Catanzaro stepped down after refusing to deregister as lobbyists.

The Freedom Partners Connection: Don McGahn and Daniel Jorjani

Don McGahn was named White House Counsel, or the top legal advisor to the President. McGahn has a long history of “courting controversy,” defending then House Majority Whip Tom Delay in his ethics scandals. McGahn has recently represented Freedom Partners, which Politico has called the “secret bank” of the Koch brothers.

Daniel Jorjani is General Counsel to Freedom Partners, and was named to the Department of the Interior transition team.

The Institute for Energy Research Connection: Tom Pyle and Travis Fisher

Thomas Pyle replaced Catanzara as head of the Department of Energy’s transition team. Pyle serves as President of the Institute for Energy Research and the American Energy Alliance, sister organizations that are funded by the Koch network. Documents obtained by the Republic Report revealed that Charles Koch was directly involved with the IER at its formation.

Pyle also worked as a registered lobbyist for Koch Industries and served as the Koch Industries Director of Federal Affairs, a lobbying job, from 2001 through 2005.

Pyle presumably brought his colleague, Travis Fisher, an economist with IER, on to the DOE transition efforts.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation Connections: Doug Domenech and Kathleen Hartnett White

Doug Domenech was assigned to lead the transition to the Department of the Interior. Domenech is Director of the Fueling Freedom Project at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The TPPF depends on donations from Koch-related foundations and from the Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust, the “dark money ATM of the conservative movement” that also receive millions from Koch-related foundations.

Another TPPF Fellow, Kathleen Hartnett White, was a finalist to serve as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, before the job went to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

The Climate Deniers: Myron Ebell, Chris Horner, and David Schnare

Trump picked Myron Ebell to lead the transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency. Ebell is the Director of Energy and Global Warming Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a public policy advocacy organization with close ties to the Koch brothers. CEI has received over $4 million from Donors Trust, as well as donations directly from David Koch and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.

Chris Horner, a policy fellow at CEI and climate denier, was named to the EPA transition team. Horner has made a living harassing climate scientists with legal intimidation tactics while at CEI, the Energy and Environment Legal Institute (EELI), and the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic (FMELC).

The FMELC at George Mason University serves as the official attorney for the EELI — the two organizations are inextricably linked.

David Schnare, who has also waged intimidation campaigns against climate scientists, was tapped to serve on the EPA transition team. Schnare is Director of the FMELC, General Counsel at the EELI, as well as the “Director of the Center for Environmental Stewardship” at the Thomas Jefferson Institute. What do these three organizations have in common? They are all funded extensively by Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust. Schnare is also an energy policy expert at the Heartland Institute.

As more team members with Koch ties are named and nominated, DeSmog will continue to update this post and the network map above.

Cross-published at DeSmog.