A billionaire investor who once advised President Donald Trump is directly benefiting from an easement of regulatory rules, sparking concerns of corruption and influence in the White House.
Carl Icahn was named as “a special advisor to the President on issues relating to regulatory reform” during the Trump transition period, and served in that capacity until August 2017, when a conflict of interest between the rules he was advising the president on and companies he was invested in was unearthed.
Icahn had urged the president during that time to ease off of rules requiring fossil fuel companies and refineries to buy “credits” if they didn’t use a certain amount of renewable energy. Icahn himself is a controlling owner of CVR Energy, which manages many oil refineries in the United States.
This week, one of the refineries in Oklahoma under CVR Energy’s purview was granted a “financial hardship” waiver, allowing it to opt out of the “credits” exchange that Icahn once advised the president to change.
In other words, the former adviser to the president is benefiting financially from a policy issue he lobbied hard for while working within the White House, a tremendous conflict of interest. The move will allow CVR Energy to reap tens of millions of dollars as a result, which will in turn fatten Icahn’s pocketbook.
Refineries like those run by CVR Energy do not likely need a “financial hardship” waiver. Indeed, if anything, the company’s improvements over the past year and a half (stock in the company has increased by more than 175 percent since Trump won the presidency) prove that it’s more than able to continue abiding by the “credits” exchange rule.
The recent developments of CVR Energy, allowing it to claim an exemption, should cause anyone with a skeptical eye to consider how much of a role Icahn’s personal relationship with Trump played in granting it. Ethically speaking, this is a suspiciously convenient deal, and the appropriate authorities ought to investigate whether something egregious went down in order to procure it.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Brendan McDermid/Reuters