(Adds Eisen comment in paragraph 9, CVR stock price in
By Chris Prentice
March 8 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 change the U.S. Renewable Fuel
Standard by shifting the burden of blending biofuels into
gasoline away from oil refining companies, and further down the
supply chain to marketers.
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 and the White House were not
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 and 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
, 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 change would benefit not just his
company, but the entire refining industry.
"Carl Icahn is between an ethics rock and a lobbying hard
place," said Norman Eisen, co-founder of Citizens for
Responsibility and 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
Icahn has disclosed his role as a Trump adviser to the
Securities and Exchange Commission, but he has not registered as
a lobbyist. Several Democratic lawmakers have said they want
more information about his role in the Trump administration.
Shares of CVR Energy were largely steady by 1 p.m. EST
(1800 GMT), but have risen about 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 change the
point of obligation for blending under the biofuels program,
something both the White House and Icahn have denied.
The White House has said it is reviewing Icahn's proposal
and has not yet taken a position.
(Reporting by Chris Prentice in New York; Additional reporting
by Emily Stephenson and Lawrence Hurley in Washington; Editing
by Richard Valdmanis and Marguerita Choy)