Sessions Failed To Disclose Oil Interests, Ignoring Federal Ethics Rules, Say Experts
Jeff Sessions Already Shows Ethical Disregard
Donald Trump’s attorney general nominee Senator Jeff Sessions is controversial mainly because of his attitude towards race, voter ID laws, and views on the Americans with Disabilities Act. But now, it seems, as is the case with many of Trump’s appointees, he has an open conflict of interest – one from which he could clearly profit.
Sessions owns oil interests on land in Alabama. The total is more than 600 acres, and some of that acreage is adjacent to a federal wildlife preserve, the Washington Post reports.
Furthermore, ethics experts state he didn’t disclose those holdings. That disclosure is a requirement of federal ethics rules. Even though the holdings are relatively small, generating less than $5,000 in revenue annually, ethics experts are troubled by his lack of disclosure on forms submitted by Sessions to the Office of Government Ethics. The sole purpose of this submission to the OGE is to allow the OGE to review the assets of Cabinet nominees for potential conflicts of interest.
Failure To Disclose By Jeff Sessions Is Troubling
“I am troubled by any omissions,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the Judiciary Committee. “But this is particularly troubling because this ownership interest involves oil and gas holdings connected to a federal wildlife refuge.”
And the fact that his holdings, however small, are adjacent to a federal wildlife refuge does present a conflict of interest. Travis Potter, an ethics lawyer who advises GOP candidates, says that, in light of the recent discovery, Sessions’s ethics agreement may need adjustment.
The Conflict Is Twofold For Sessions
“The fact that his oil is in a federal wildlife refuge means he should not be involved in DOJ policies concerning drilling or environmental issues” involving federal reserves, Potter explained.
“Clearly he should have disclosed the asset,” he added.
As the Post reported, “as attorney general, Sessions would have a role in determining policy for the department’s environment and natural resources division, which has more than 400 lawyers responsible for enforcing pollution and other laws.”
Sessions owns the rights to the oil that is located under the federal wildlife refuse. He should not be allowed to determine policy from which he may personally profit.
Democrats have repeatedly called Republicans out for their attempts to ram Trump’s Cabinet picks through before the ethics checks can be completed. The Office of Government Ethics sent a letter expressing their own concern over the rushed process which, they fear, will leave potential cabinet members unvetted. Sessions’s disregard to disclose pertinent information will certainly be used to bolster that already credible argument.
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Sessions’s confirmation hearing began on Tuesday morning.