Revolving Door: Chuck Grassley aide cashes out to ethanol lobby after mandate win

Source: By Philip Wegmann, Washington Examiner • Posted: Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The National Biodiesel Board announced Monday that Kurt Kovarik, a legislative director for Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, will join the group in the new year as vice president of federal affairs. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)The National Biodiesel Board announced Monday that Kurt Kovarik, a legislative director for Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, will join the group in the new year as vice president of federal affairs. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

To the victor goes the spoils, and to the winner of a protracted policy battle between legislators and administration bureaucrats over mandated levels of biodiesel usage goes a lucrative gig at a biofuels trade association.

The National Biodiesel Board announced Monday that Kurt Kovarik, a legislative director for Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, will join the group in the new year as vice president of federal affairs — that is, the top lobbyist.

“Kurt’s decades of experience in the United States Senate will serve us well as we navigate the federal policy issues that most affect our industry,” Donnell Rehagen, chief executive officer at the National Biodiesel Board, said in a statement. “His long history of working on energy and tax legislation, his familiarity with the key players in Washington and his knowledge base on biofuels are all reasons why we are so happy to have him on our team.”

Coincidently, the legislative veteran moves on after helping his boss win one of the most brutal battles.

To keep the Environmental Protection Agency from effectively cutting a mandate forcing biofuels on Americans, Grassley recruited Republican Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Deb Fischer of Nebraska to bully the administration. While Kovarik was legislative director, the trio from corn producing states held up Trump’s EPA nominees. You’ve got a nice little agency here, they wrote in so many words to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. It’d be a shame if anything happened to it.

And it worked. The EPA blinked. The subsidies didn’t change. Now the most senior aide in Grassley’s legislative shop has walked through the revolving door and onto K Street as a lobbyist.

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