Ex-Pence chief of staff grabs biodiesel client

Source: Kevin Bogardus, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, September 18, 2017

Bill Smith, a former top aide to Vice President Mike Pence, has signed up with another biofuels trade group.

The National Biodiesel Board has hired Smith’s firm, Sextons Creek, to lobby on renewable fuel standards, according to lobbying disclosure records released by the Senate this week.

Smith is the firm’s lone lobbyist registered to work for the trade association. He has been representing NBB since Aug. 1, according to the records.

Documents also show that Smith’s firm has subcontracted with Fidelis Government Relations to lobby for the biodiesel group.

Smith had already been working on behalf of Fuels America, another biofuels advocacy group (Greenwire, May 18).

The renewable fuel standard, which is overseen by U.S. EPA, has been a hot topic for the Trump administration. Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor and a former adviser to President Trump, has faced opposition from some biofuel advocates for pushing to shift the RFS’s point of obligation for blending ethanol into gasoline.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has denied that Icahn has had any influence over how his agency has handled the RFS issue. In a letter sent earlier this week, Pruitt said that he met with Icahn during his confirmation process but that the investor had zero contact with EPA since then (Greenwire, Sept. 12).

Smith founded his firm in 2014 after working in several positions for Pence, including campaign manager and chief of staff in Pence’s congressional and Indiana governor’s offices.

He signed up his first federal lobbying clients, inking subcontracts for AT&T Inc., General Dynamics Corp. and Microsoft Corp., earlier this year. So far, his firm has earned roughly $315,000 in federal lobbying fees, records show.

Sextons Creek joins other firms representing NBB, such as Arent Fox LLP and Washington Council Ernst & Young.