By Chris Prentice
(Reuters) – A government watchdog group, Public Citizen, said on Wednesday it has asked lawmakers to investigate whether billionaire investor Carl Icahn should have been subject to lobbying disclosure laws when he advised President Donald Trump to overhaul the U.S. biofuels program.
Icahn, an unpaid adviser to Trump on regulation, submitted a proposal to Trump last month to alter the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard by shifting the burden of blending biofuels into gasoline away from oil refining companies, & further down the supply chain to marketers.
p>Public Citizen said that, because Icahn owns a controlling stake in a refinery that could benefit from the proposed change, he may have been required by a 1995 lobbying disclosure law to disclose his discussions with Trump on the subject as lobbying. The group said it has made its request for a probe in a letter sent to Congress on Wednesday morning.
"All of this has occurred with no record of any (Lobbying Disclosure Act) filings by or on behalf of Mr. Icahn," Public Citizen said in a copy of the letter provided to Reuters.
Efforts to reach Icahn & the White House were not immediately successful.
The Renewable Fuel Standard, signed into law by former President George W. Bush, requires oil companies to mix increasing levels of renewable fuels into gasoline & diesel each year – a requirement that many refiners say costs them millions of dollars.
Icahn owns an 82-percent stake in refiner CVR Energy Inc <CVI.N>, which along with other refining companies, has urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to shift the blending obligation away from them.
Icahn has said that the alter would benefit not just his company, yet the entire refining industry.
"Carl Icahn is between an ethics rock & a lobbying complex place," said Norman Eisen, co-founder of Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington who served as the chief ethics lawyer for former President Barack Obama. "If he claims he is an informal advisor, then he is subject to lobbying rules."
Icahn has disclosed his role as a Trump adviser to the Securities & Exchange Commission, yet he has not registered as a lobbyist. Several Democratic lawmakers have said they want more information approximately his role in the Trump administration.
Shares of CVR Energy were largely steady by 1 p.m. EST, yet have risen approximately 70 percent since the presidential election. Over that time, Icahn's stake has gained over $600 million in value, according to Reuters data.
Last week, the head of a U.S. biofuels group said Icahn told him that Trump was readying an executive order to alter the point of obligation for blending under the biofuels program, something both the White House & Icahn have denied.
The White House has said it is reviewing Icahn's proposal & has not yet taken a position.
(Reporting by Chris Prentice in New York; Additional reporting by Emily Stephenson & Lawrence Hurley in Washington; Editing by Richard Valdmanis & Marguerita Choy)
Politics & GovernmentCarl IcahnDonald TrumpPublic Citizen