A billionaire investor adviser to President Donald Trump said liberal groups are using a smear campaign to protect an environmental program that bludgeons small businesses.
Trump’s opponents are using “fake news” tactics to dismiss efforts to reform the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), Carl Icahn, the majority shareholder of holding company Icahn Enterprises, wrote Wednesday in an editorial for The Hill.
Public Citizen, a liberal non-profit consumer advocacy group, claimed Icahn was acting as a lobbyist when advised the White House to reform the Bush-era biofuels program. He wants to change the RFS by shifting the burden of blending the biofuel into gasoline away from oil refiners to gas companies.
He called the campaign against him a smear technique to distract from a more important battle.
“A more worthwhile investigation would seek to uncover the dark forces behind this witch hunt, which is perhaps being financed either by those seeking to smear President Donald Trump,” Icahn wrote, adding that his critics should be targeting the RFS.
The group claims Icahn refused to register as a lobbyist despite owning a majority stake in a refinery that could benefit from the proposed change. It made its request for a probe in a letter sent to Congress.
Icahn disclosed his role as a Trump adviser to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Democratic lawmakers want more information about his role in the Trump administration.
Former Obama administration ethics officials, meanwhile, believe the wealthy businessman is stuck in an ethical quagmire.
“Carl Icahn is between an ethics rock and a lobbying hard place,” Norman Eisen, who served as chief ethics lawyer for former President Barack Obama, told reporters Wednesday. “If he claims he is an informal advisor, then he is subject to lobbying rules.”
Icahn, who believes Public Citizens’ crusade is illegal, said his legal team gave him the okay to continue without registering.
He also equated his fight to reform the RFS to past business successes.
“I view my current fight against this insane law as similar to those campaigns,” he noted, adding: “… I have never shied away from following my convictions. I don’t intend to start now.”
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