Wealthy Individuals and Families Financed State GOP Groups, New Filings Reveal

New IRS filings reveal that billionaires including Steven Cohen, Sheldon Adelson, Joseph Craft and the wealthy DeVos family backed state level Republican 527 groups with millions of dollars  in the month leading up to and the weeks following the 2018 election.

As 527 political organizations, Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) and Republican Governors Association (RGA) can raise unlimited funds from individuals and corporations. However, the groups must file periodic 8872 reports, shedding light into which corporations and wealthy individuals are funding these organizations.

Below are some highlights from the latest RGA, RAGA and RSLC filings, covering the period of 10/01/2018 through 11/26/2018:

  • The three organizations received a combined total of $5.5 million from the Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam.

  • The right-wing dark money group Judicial Crisis Network, which spent millions on TV ads in favor of Kavanaugh, contributed $1.75 million to RAGA, totaling $3 million in year-to-date aggregate contributions. RSLC also received $1.51 million from the Judicial Confirmation Network, totaling $3.01 million in year-to-date aggregate contributions. Judicial Crisis Network previously went by the name of Judicial Confirmation Network.

  • Hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen contributed $1 million (year-to-date aggregate: $1,050,000) to RGA.

  • Each of the children of the late billionaire Richard DeVos individually gave $350,000 donations to RGA on October 10. The family members include the U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ husband Dick, his brothers Daniel and Doug, and his sister Suzanne DeVos.

  • Karen Wright, President and CEO of Ariel Corporation, which manufactures reciprocating gas compressors, and her husband Thomas Rastin gave a combined total of $250,000 to RGA during the most recent period. The filings show that the couple gave $1 million in year-to-date aggregate contributions to RGA.

  • Billionaire Joseph Craft, President and CEO of the coal company Alliance Resource Partners, gave RGA $205,092 during the period, (year-to-date aggregate: $705,092)

  • Fossil fuel companies made up a large portion of RAGA’s contributors, including: Koch Industries ($250,000, $550,000 year-to-date), Noble Energy ($500,000, $1,000,000 year-to-date) and Anadarko Petroleum ($500,000).

  • Utilities supported all three organizations during the period, including FirstEnergy ($500,000 to RGA) NextEra Energy ($400,255 to RAGA), DTE Energy ($50,000 to RGA), Alliant Energy ($30,000 to RSLC and $40,000 to RGA), American Electric Power ($10,000 to RLSC), Dominion Energy ($40,000 to RSLC, $25,000 to RGA) and the Salt River Project ($15,450 to RGA).

See below to view the full RGA, RAGA and RSLC 8872 form filings:

RGA Form 8872

RAGA Form 8872

RSLC Form 8872


Photograph by MittenStatePhototog. Used under creative commons license.


Despite numerous corporations distancing themselves from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) over its controversial agenda, dozens of corporations and groups are sponsoring ALEC’s “States and Nation Policy Summit” taking place this week in Washington, D.C..

The list of sponsors appeared in a series of slides during the live feed of the event’s opening lunch, which featured two members of the Trump Administration, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney.

Since 2011, more than a hundred companies have ended their funding of ALEC, including Verizon, which cut ties with the group this past September after hosting anti-muslim activist and right-wing extremist David Horowitz during its 45th annual meeting in New Orleans. A letter signed by 79 organizations sent to Verizon noted that Horowitz gave a hate-fueled speech at the event, claiming “school curricula had been turned over to racist organizations like Black Lives Matter and terrorist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood” and defended President Trump for calling a woman a “pig.”

Sponsors from the fossil fuel industry include Peabody Energy, Duke Energy, Energy Policy Network, and Piedmont Natural Gas. The Charles Koch Institute, which is backed by CEO of Koch Industries Charles Koch, is also listed as a sponsor. The event features a packed agenda in their Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force, where legislators and corporations will vote  on several “model” resolutions, including one that praises President Trump’s “energy and environmental policy accomplishments,” and  another that declares support for “individual property owners rights regarding the development and build of energy projects upon their privately owned land.”

Pharmaceutical companies and their main trade association are top sponsors of the meeting, including PhRMA, Pfizer, Celgene, and Eli Lilly.

Other notable sponsors include: Comcast, Charter Communications, UPS, Jack Daniels, Altria, FedEx and the payday loan company Advance Financial 24/7.

Below is the set of slides featuring the sponsors:

Below is the full list of the corporations outlined in the slides:

“Chairman” Level:
Ed Direction

“Vice Chairman” Level:
Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force
Duke Energy
Energy Policy Network
FedEx Corporation
Jack Daniels
Peabody Energy
Piedmont Natural Gas

“Director” Level:
Advance Financial 24/7
American Bail Coalition
American Civil Rights Union
Charter Communications
Charles Koch Institute
Fair Lines America
Family Research Council
Eli Lilly

“Trustee” Level:
EDP Renewables
HealthShare Coalition
Right on Crime

Department of the Interior Ignores Scientists to Appease Oil Industry on Endangered Beetle

Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Department of the Interior has used “unsound science and poor ethics” in an attempt to cut protections for an endangered species of beetle, according to top scientific experts involved in the matter.

The species at issue is the American Burying Beetle, whose last remaining habitat includes choice onshore oil and gas fields. This has made beetle protections a target for the oil and gas industry since the Beetle’s listing in 1989.

As the Washington Post reports, the scientists accused the Department of the Interior of misuse of scientific data, plagiarism, and disregard for scientists with real expertise in beetle science.

Doug Leasure, a scientist involved in authoring a crucial report on the beetle for the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), penned a letter to an administration official that described “poor quality scientific behavior and unethical processes” by the Department of the Interior. He calls the Fish and Wildlife Service’s work on the beetle study “opaque and misleading.”

Read the letter here:


Research and analysis by Documented shows this latest attempt to remove protections for the beetle coincides with meetings between hydraulic fracturing industry lobbyists and top Interior officials.

Communications gathered from FOIA show a close working relationship between the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), a top lobbying group for the fracking industry, and Vincent DeVito, a former top aid and counselor on energy policy to Secretary Zinke. DeVito now works for an offshore drilling company. After IPAA complained about beetle protections, DeVito scheduled meetings with Fish and Wildlife Service head Greg Sheehan about the Beetle. Months later, Fish and Wildlife Service issued a public notice on their plan to downlist the beetle from endangered to threatened. This downlisting would allow the oil and gas industry to disturb more beetle habitat and kill more beetles than currently allowed.  

IPAA has long been an enemy of the beetle, joining other anti-Endangered Species Act groups like the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) in suing the government to reduce beetle protections.

While DeVito seems to have played a role in pushing FWS to downlist the beetle, there are a number of top administration officials with close ties to IPAA and TPPF. Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt worked for IPAA on endangered species issues as a lawyer, and Assistant Secretary Doug Domenech was employed by TPPF, both holding these positions directly before joining Interior.

Meetings and Communications about the American Burying Beetle between Vincent DeVito and IPAA

8/3/17 IPAA and Vincent DeVito communicate on ABB, IPAA shares background information including cost breakout. The IPAA lobbyist also share her thoughts on the IPCC.

8/4/17 IPAA asks DeVito for help with “beetle problem” on tribal lands in Oklahoma.


8/15/17 DeVito meets with FWS on American Burying Beetle (rescheduled)


8/17/17 DeVito meets with FWS head Greg Sheehan on “ABB”  https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4444836-Vincent-DeVito-Calendar-May-to-October-2017.html#document/p131/a420122

6/30/18 Notice for downlisting Beetle published




Janus Decision Rooted in Koch Wishlist

With last month’s monumental Janus decision by the Supreme Court, the Koch family won a major victory in their multi-generational attack on unions.

The ruling spreads to the entire public sector one of the laws the Koch fortune first helped push through in Kansas 60 years ago: “right-to-work.” And in doing so it enshrines the union-busting agenda their fossil fuel money has helped advance for decades.

(This story was first published by In These Times.)

Through a single vote, the Court’s 5-4 Janus decision reverses decades of legal precedent that had obstructed part of the Koch’s pro-corporate agenda. That vote was secured with the Kochs’ help in bankrolling efforts that include: helping to maintain a GOP Senate majority; helping the Senate block President Obama from filling the February 2016 Supreme Court vacancy; and helping to win the confirmation of right-wing corporate activist Neil Gorsuch.

Janus helps cement the nation’s highest court as the Koch Court, and Charles Koch wants to keep it that way.

As Documented first detailed in partnership with the Intercept, for months the Kochs had been investing heavily in anticipation of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the Court, which was announced on June 27, the same day as Janus. Earlier this year, the Koch group “Americans for Prosperity” (AFP) hired Sarah Field from the Koch-funded Federalist Society to spearhead its campaign to extend the Koch hold on the Court for perhaps a generation or more.

Despite claims by AFP that helping to seat Gorsuch was their “first” foray into Supreme Court nominations, the Koch effort to influence who becomes a judge and how they interpret the law goes back much further.

In fact, the Kochs have been investing in reshaping the law to suit their personal agenda for decades. For example, the Koch group Citizens for a Sound Economy, AFP’s predecessor, backed Clarence Thomas’ controversial confirmation to the Court more than 25 years ago.

The Kochs’ long-term agenda to remake the United States in their image is a multi-pronged effort that includes changing both the law and who makes or interprets the laws, including the anti-union Janus decision.

The Seeds of Janus

The effort to roll back union rights actually began almost a century ago, as wealthy industrialists objected to the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, known as the Wagner Act, which enshrined the right to collective bargaining in the United States.

Many tycoons of the time, like Alfred Sloan, head of General Motors, opposed those rights along with other business reforms of FDR’s New Deal.

Fred Koch, co-founder of the corporation that later became Koch Industries, harshly criticized American workers under New Deal policies in 1938. He extolled the economic policies of Emperor Hirohito and fascists Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini:

Although nobody agrees with me, I am of the opinion that the only sound countries in the world are Germany, Italy, and Japan, simply because they are all working and working hard… The laboring people in those countries are proportionately much better off than they are any place else in the world. When you contrast the state of mind of Germany today with what it was in 1925 you begin to think that perhaps this course of idleness, feeding at the public trough, dependence on government, etc., with which we are afflicted is not permanent and can be overcome.

Only recently, through the investigative work of Jane Mayer, has the public learned that the Koch fortune was actually built in part on directly aiding Hitlerby building the oil-cracking factory that became “a key component in the Nazi war machine.” As Mayer noted in her 2016 book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, that factory refined high-octane fuel needed for the Luftwaffe, which targeted, terrorized, and killed many thousands of innocent civilians. Fred Koch’s praise of Germany came afterHitler’s air bombers helped murder 136 men, women, and children in Guernica in the Basque region, a tragedy made famous by the mural painted by Pablo Picasso.

Meanwhile, industrialists like Sloan pursued efforts to undo New Deal reforms. In 1947, Congress amended the Wagner Act with the Taft-Hartley Act. It gave states the power to pass “right-to-work” laws that undermined collective bargaining by not requiring workers who benefit from bargained rights to pay dues to the unions that secured and enforced them.

How the Kochs Fertilized “Right-to-Work”

As Mayer noted:

[Fred Koch] was an early and active member of the Wichita-based DeMille Foundation for Political Freedom, an anti-labor group [founded in 1945] that was a forerunner of the National Right to Work Defense Foundation. In a revealing private letter, one of its staff members explained the group’s ‘Astroturf’ strategy. In reality, he said, big-business industrialists would run the group, serving as its ‘anonymous quarterbacks,’ and ‘call the turns.’ But he said they needed to sell the ‘yarn’ that the group was ‘composed of housewives, farmers, small businessmen, professional people, wage earners-not big business industrialists.’ Otherwise, he admitted, the movement was ‘almost certainly doomed to failure.’

By 1954, an engineer from Wichita, Kan., Reed Larson, took a leave from his job at the Coleman Company, to launch Kansans-for-the-Right-to-Work. The following year, former Rep. Fred Hartley, Jr., (R-N.J.) co-founded the National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC). By 1958, the NRTWC was targeting six states to adopt right-to-work laws but it failed in every place, except Kansas.

“Fred [Koch] co-led a referendum drive to alter the state constitution in order to make it harder for unions to take root in Kansas,” Duke University Professor Nancy MacLean noted.

On Nov. 9, 1958, the New York Times reported that right-to-work won in Kansas because anti-union views had taken hold, noting:

More campaign efforts and more money were expended on the emotion-provoking issue than on the campaigns of all Republican and Democratic state and Congressional candidates combined. … For the last 10 days or so before Election Day an organization called Kansans-for-the-Right-to-Work flooded newspapers, television channels and other advertising media with appeals to ‘vote yes.’ These by far outnumbered the ‘vote no’ advertisements of unions opposing the amending.

A month later, Fred Koch joined Robert Welch and ten other men in Indianapolis to found the extreme rightwing group dubbed the “John Birch Society” (JBS).

As the Washington Post noted in its 1961 profile of JBS:

At the top of the Society’s structure in Wichita are several very wealthy industrialists. Oil engineer Fred Koch is president of the Rock Island Oil and Refining Co. A millionaire several times over, he is on the Society’s national council. … Wichita is the John Birch Society’s center of strength in Kansas, and one of its greatest in the country. … The leadership of the Birch Society overlaps heavily with the leadership of the organizations that successfully campaigned in 1958 for a right to work amendment to the State’s Constitution.

As detailed by Group Research Inc. in its 1962 history of JBS, Koch worked with both NRTWC and the Christian Crusade in arguing against union dues like those at issue in the Janus case.

A History of Hostility

In 1959, Fred Koch joined the Executive Committee to plan the JBS strategy to push back against what it viewed as communism in nearly every American institution.

In 1960, Koch published his polemic “A Business Man Looks at Communism” and distributed it to JBS chapters across the country. That pamphlet makes a variety of hysterical claims against unions, including:

Labor Unions have long been a Communist goal. How far they have been penetrated by Communists I have no idea, but it must be very far indeed, judging the hatred and venom poured out in some labor papers….

Koch also accused the U.S. Supreme Court under former Gov. Earl Warren (R-CA) of issuing pro-Communist decisions, the universities of having thousands of Communist professors, the United Nations of being subversive, and former GOP President Dwight Eisenhower of being soft on Communism.

Similar sentiments were expressed in numerous other publications the JBS also pushed. The organization pitched a screed against the union workers who organized against Kohler fixtures in Wisconsin. It pushed attacks on the UAW’s Walter Reuther, who was posthumously awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

It published and peddled right-wing writer Rosalie Gordon’s attack on the U.S. Supreme Court for decisions enforcing collective bargaining rights as protecting the “labor-union monopoly,” along with what she called the “plague” of desegregation caused by Brown v. Board of Education.

The JBS also pushed reprints of tomes by Ludwig von Mises attacking unions as illegitimate intervenors in the “free market,” artificial inflators of wages for workers, and thieves of the profits of tycoons. It promoted F.A. Hayek’s vilification of government regulation of corporations as leading to fascism and Hilaire du Berrier’s conspiracy theories that American labor unions were supposedly using union dues to finance communist terrorist violence abroad.

Fred Koch’s son Charles urged visitors to the John Birch Society bookstore in Wichita to read copies of JBS pamphlets, including those by anti-labor writers from the Austrian School of Economics, like Mises.

Indeed, as the present author first documented for the Center for Media and Democracy, Charles Koch became active in JBS after returning home to Wichita to help with the family business. Charles was a leader and fundraiser for JBS, including underwriting its publications and national radio network, while it attacked collective bargaining and leaders of the civil rights movement such as the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks.

Charles Koch in Action

Though he left JBS in 1968, Charles Koch never abandoned its core anti-union agenda and the lessons of his father’s commitment to right-to-work. He did try to shed some of the rhetoric around communist conspiracies, though of late he was painted by Koch political strategist Richard Fink as a martyr against “collectivism,” in audio obtained by the Undercurrent, which also included outlandish claims linking fascism and the minimum wage.

It was Charles Koch’s investment in lifting up the work of Mises and Hayek, who made similar claims, that helped preserve and extend their legacy. As Stephen Moore noted in a 2006 profile on Charles for the Wall Street Journal:

The authors who have had the most profound influence on his own political philosophy include F.A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Simon, Paul Johnson and Charles Murray. Mr. Koch says that he experienced an intellectual epiphany in the early 1960s, when he attended a conference on free-market capitalism hosted by the late, great Leonard Reed.

Charles brought Mises to Wichita to speak and deployed F.A. “Baldy” Harper’s Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) to promote Mises and his protégé Hayek. As lauded by Reed’s Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), Hayek argued that unions violated the very idea of the “rule of law” and that the Wagner Act was central to that violation, a sentiment he promoted in numerous writings.

Charles Koch is deeply devoted to an alternative universe in which collective bargaining undermines the rule of law and is not a major cause of increased wages. Moore noted in his interview:

As we continue, Mr. Koch becomes increasingly animated. He discusses another seminal work in his collection, F.A. Harper’s 1957 Why Wages Rise. The book demonstrates ‘that wages rise not because of unions or government action, but because of marginal productivity gains — people get more money when they produce more value for other people.’ Then he confides, “I was so thrilled by this revelation that I had what Maslow called a ‘peak experience.’'”

Koch has also supported the NRTWC, which “sought to put a new face on the anti-union campaign by building its rhetoric on the arguments of Hayek, Mises, and others with a ‘respectable’ pedigree.” The NRTWC argues that:

Compulsory unionism itself violates the dignity of the individual worker, regardless of how the forced union tribute is spent. As the late Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich A. von Hayek wrote: “[T]he coercion which unions have been permitted to exercise … is primarily the coercion of fellow workers.

Deep Devotion and Investment

Hayek and Mises are not the only two virulently anti-union economists Charles Koch backed. As Nancy MacLean documented in Democracy in Chains, one of the key architects of the Koch agenda domestically and internationally, James Buchanan, also railed against the so-called “union monopolies” for distorting “free market” wages.

And, as UnKoch My Campus has detailed, Koch money has funded scores of academics to push their agenda at universities, buying control over content and personnel with restrictive dictates attached to their donations.

Many of the rightwing groups Charles Koch is known to have made a major investment in since the 1970s have pushed right-to-work or attacked collective bargaining rights. These include Reason magazine, the Cato InstituteAmericans for Prosperity, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the State Policy Network and many more.

During David Koch’s 1980 bid to become vice president, running on the ticket of Libertarian Ed Clark—which was pushed by Charles and fueled with Koch cash—the campaign platform included making right-to-work the law of the land:

[W]e urge repeal of the National Labor Relations Act, and all state Right to Work Laws, which prohibit employers from making voluntary contracts with unions. We oppose all government back-to-work orders as imposing a form of forced labor.

That is, there would be no need for state right-to-work laws if there were no NLRA that protects collective bargaining rights. As a result, right-to-work would be effectively nationalized at the determination of the employer.

After badly losing that election, the Kochs have invested heavily in changing the culture—and courts of America—to make their anti-union vision a reality.

Right-to-work is part of that vision.

Millions Spent

A leak of the Kochs’ summer retreat in 2010 revealed that they featured NRTWC leaders at their gathering of billionaires to plot plans for that year’s midterm elections.

In 2012, before most of America even knew that the Kochs had branded their billionaire conclave as “Freedom Partners,” that group injected $1 million directly into the NRTWC among the more than $200 million of its known spending that cycle.

In 2016, they focused much of their known political spending on keeping a GOP majority in the Senate, and they influenced the make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court by helping to block Judge Merrick Garland’s confirmation.

For the 2018 election, they’ve pledged to spend more than $400 million through the Seminar Network, the latest rebranding of their network of tycoons.

To be clear, the Koch family fortune is not the only one that has been expended pushing right-to-work laws to try to weaken the power of ordinary people to negotiate through unions. A major funder of right-to-work effort has been the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, along with Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, which Mother Jones has dubbed “the ATM” of the right wing.

Collective bargaining has provided women with greater economic opportunities and job security. Right-to-work laws also have a disproportionate impact on people of color, who are union members at a higher rate than whites. Black women will likely be the group most adversely affected by the Janus case. Notably, workers in right-to-work states also have lower wages than in states that have rejected this agenda.

Undermining Progressives Too

The spread of right to work through Janus also will affect our elections.

As In These Times has documented with the Center for Media and Democracy, the national push for right-to-work is designed to undermine the power of unions and to “defang and defund” them as a way to weaken the chances for progressives to win in politics and policy.

The Koch investment in making right-to-work a national reality represents one of the longest and deepest commitments to this agenda, aside from NRTWC itself.

And this year marks the 60th anniversary of Fred Koch’s victory of making right-to-work legally binding in Kansas.

Now, six decades later, Charles Koch has helped make his father’s wish binding on the rest of America through helping to make the Janus ruling a reality.

Lisa Graves is the Co-Director of Documented. She previously served as the Chief Counsel for Nominations for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. She was also Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Justice, where she vetted potential judicial nominees. She previously led the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) where she spearheaded the launch of ALEC Exposed. She is an Advisor to UnKoch My Campus and on the Board of Directors of CMD.

Koch Industries among major donors to GOP Attorneys General Group for 2018 Election Cycle

The latest financial report for the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) has been filed (see below). It reveals numerous corporations, top executives, and their trade groups donating a total of $4,537,553 to ensure Republican state attorneys general candidates are financially backed heading into the 2018 election cycle.

According to the report, which covered the first quarter of 2018, RAGA reported $4,537,553 in total contributions. RAGA’s fundraising has been steadily increasing. During the first quarter of 2016, the last election year for a majority of attorneys general races, RAGA raised $3,511,055.

Its Democratic opponent – the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) – has also improved its own haul since 2016. In the first quarter of 2016 it raised $1,029,111, rougly half of the $1,975,476 it raised in the same period in 2018.

RAGA is a 527 political organization that can accept unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations, and spends millions of dollars each cycle in an effort to elect state Republican attorneys general.

In return for both high-priced membership fees and other contributions, the group provides exclusive access to Republican state attorneys general and their staff. Last year, RAGA held an event at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, and a holiday party at the Washington D.C. Trump International Hotel.

Here are some highlights from the new report:

  • The fossil fuel industry collectively spent hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting RAGA in the first quarter of 2018. Contributors included Koch industries ($250,000), Entergy ($125,000), American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers ($75,000), Joseph Craft who is the CEO of coal company Alliance Resources ($50,000), Whiting Oil and Gas ($50,000), Edison Electric Institute ($50,000), American Petroleum Institute ($50,000), NextEra Energy ($25,000), Southern Company ($25,000), American Gas Association ($15,350).
  • C. Boyden Gray, the former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, whose clients in the past have included Exelon, First Energy, and Constellation Energy gave $125,000.
  • The National Rifle Association (NRA), which was RAGA’s second largest contributor in 2017, contributed $25,000. Documented reported in February that RAGA has promoted NRA backed candidates in elections and has utilized NRA materials that grade candidates based on their opposition to restrictions on gun ownership.
  • The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and the Judicial Crisis Network both contributed $250,000 — making them the highest contributors in the first quarter along with Koch Industries, which also contributed $250,000.
  • Tech companies also supported RAGA, including Amazon ($50,000), Yelp ($15,350) and Oracle ($50,000). Smaller contributions from Facebook ($350), Lyft ($700) are likely RAGA conference fees.
  • RAGA paid America Rising a total of $14,421 on research expenditures. In 2017, Mother Jones reported that the EPA paid a company affiliated with America Rising, Definers Public Affairs, to provide “media monitoring.” The New York Times reported that the EPA employees’ who spoke out against the agency had their emails targeted by a lawyer at America Rising. The contract with Definers was cancelled following media scrutiny.

Photograph of Charles Koch by Kevin Moloney/Fortune Brainstorm TECH. Used under creative commons license.

Interior Secretary Meeting with Coal Industry Lobby Group Board of Directors

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey will speak to a room full of coal executives in Phoenix, Arizona at the National Mining Association (“NMA”) Spring Board of Directors meeting, according to a tweet from the keynote speaker of the event, Jim Carroll.

“I’m down in Phoenix Arizona, I’m about to go on stage to be the opening keynote speaker for the National Mining Association Spring Board of Directors meeting,” Carroll stated in a video he posted on Monday morning outside of the event. “This is a pretty hardcore meeting. I’ve got the CEO’s of most of the major world’s mining companies in the room. I’ve got Ryan Zinke, the Minister of the Interior for the U.S. government. I’ve got the Governor of Arizona in the room.”

The Associated Press first revealed Zinke was scheduled to meet with NMA in Arizona on Monday, but not did specify any further details.

This is not the first time NMA has hosted key officials in the Trump Administration. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt attended the NMA Spring board meeting last year in Naples, Florida, according to Pruitt’s schedule released by the New York Times.  Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta spoke at the NMA 2017 fall board meeting, according to a report by the Washington Post . That event took place at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.. According to The Intercept, Zinke was initially scheduled to address the event at the Trump International but could not attend due to travel–Interior Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt attended in his place.  

The Trump administration has delivered numerous wins for the coal industry since taking office. The Environmental Protection Agency is replacing two major rules from the Obama Administration that would significantly impact the coal industry: the Clean Power Plan, and Waters of the United States (“WOTUS”).  Secretary Zinke’s Interior Department has repealed the Obama-era ban on coal-leasing on federal lands, and reversed the closing of a loophole that would have led to higher royalty payments being paid by coal companies extracting on public lands.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, NMA spent more than $1.9 million lobbying expenditures in 2017.

Image used under Creative Common, by Gage Skidmore.