WASHINGTON — Climate change skeptics, a foe of regulations, a lobbyist for motor manufacturers and the conservative Heritage Foundation are among those who’ve gotten a foot in the gates of the White House complex in President Donald Trump’s administration, according to records the administration began releasing after a watchdog group sued to see them.
Public Citizen filed suit in August saying the Trump administration was violating the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to release information about visitors to four agencies within the White House campus. The Trump administration and the group agreed to a settlement for the release of the information on Feb. 13.
The information provides a glimpse of who has found an audience in the Republican White House, under a president who spent a lifetime in private business. Represented are an alphabet soup of the guests’ professional pedigrees, including current and former agency heads and officials with so-called think tanks that study and write about public policy issues.
The agencies posting visitor information this week are the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
The agencies redacted the names of some visitors for privacy reasons. Public Citizen officials said they were skeptical that the privacy concerns were legitimate.
Visiting the OMB, for example, was Jim Tozzi, a lobbyist who founded the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness — an industry-supported, for-profit group that advocates for pushback against regulations. According to his bio, Tozzi worked for five presidents, starting with Lyndon B. Johnson, and was a senior official at OMB. Tozzi visited buildings on the complex on Feb. 2 this year, according to the records, which do not detail the meetings’ purpose.
On Feb. 8, Marlo Lewis and Myron Ebell of the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, visited. Both are challengers of the idea that climate change is man-made.
Other visitors included Lee Janger of the Alliance for Vehicle Efficiency, Laurie Holmes of the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association and Hudson Hollister, founder of the Data Coalition.
David Kreutzer, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity, was another visitor, according to the logs.
Under the settlement, visitor records from the past year will be available for review in the agencies’ online reading rooms on a monthly basis.
Public Citizen said OMB’s listing includes about 2,000 entries, with 534 redacted, 474 of them under an exemption for personal privacy. OSTP provided about 650 entries and redacted 75, 17 of those for personal privacy. CEQ provided about 100 entries and redacted six, all under the personal privacy exemption. Any redactions from the drug control policy office were not immediately available.