Joining Trump’s Interior Department in 2018, and receiving a promotion to Counselor to the Interior Secretary and Senior Counselor in 2019, former Koch-network operative Hubbel Relat’s full Department of Influence profile was released by Western Values Project today. Prior to becoming Bernhardt’s personal counselor, Relat worked under Acting Interior Solicitor Daniel Jorjani and was involved in the controversial ‘political awareness’ review process of public document requests.
“Relat is just another shady player in Trump’s swampy cast of characters that make up political appointees at Interior. His links to the Koch brothers network and his background as a political operative doesn’t make him qualified to protect our public lands – but they do qualify him to work in Trump’s corrupt and conflict-ridden administration,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of Western Values Project.
Hubbel Relat joined Interior in July of 2018 as an advisor to Acting Interior Solicitor Daniel Jorjani. Jorjani is currently the subject of a criminal investigation requested by a Senator for potentially lying under oath.
Relat, with Jorjani, was behind the proposed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) rule change that would make it harder to fulfill requests for public documents. Interior’s Inspector General recently opened a review of an investigation into how Interior appointees are handling public documents requests, including the rule change, as well as the potentially illegal ‘political awareness’ review process that has caused delays in the release of public documents and cases where appointees withheld responsive documents from the public.
Relat’s past is littered with special interest connections, including deep ties to the oil-money fueled Koch network. Relat has worked for no less than four Koch-affiliated organizations – Fueling U.S. Forward, American Energy Alliance, Freedom Partners, and Americans for Prosperity. He was gifted a $30,000 severance package by the Koch network when he left to join Bernhardt’s Interior. He also spoke at a 2014 Koch brothers’ secret conference attended by hundreds of billionaires and the “who’s who of Republican political elites.” He was promoted to Counselor to Interior Secretary Bernhardt in January and Senior Counselor in April.
Western Values Project created the Department of Influence website, which was launched in 2017, to document the revolving-door between industry and political appointees at the Interior Department under former Secretary Ryan Zinke, current Secretary David Bernhardt and President Trump.