Trump Energy Aide to Return to Lobbying Firm

Michael Catanzaro, a chief architect of President Donald Trump’s energy policy, is leaving the White House and returning to his former lobbying firm.

Catanzaro, who was appointed in February 2017 as a special assistant to the president for domestic energy and environmental policy, is returning to his previous advocacy and public relations firm, the CGCN Group. Before joining the White House, Catanzaro was a partner at CGCN, where his clients included major oil companies and oilfield service providers, including Hess Corp., Noble Energy Inc. and Halliburton Co., as well as the American Chemistry Council.

The firm announced the planned return in a news release, with Managing Partner Steve Clark saying Catanzaro’s White House experience "will be an invaluable resource for current and future clients." The company promised to "make every effort to ensure his work complies with all relevant ethics guidelines."

Under federal law, there is a one-year cooling off period for White House officials, blocking them from formally lobbying their agency in the 12 months after they depart. Trump issued an executive order requiring employees serving in his administration to wait five years before conducting lobbying activities. However, there is no criminal penalty for violating that pledge.

Catanzaro joins a batch of other top administration officials who have chosen to depart after a year inside the tumultuous Trump administration, including National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Communications Director Hope Hicks and Catanzaro’s former boss, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn. Another energy adviser on the National Economic Council, George David Banks, left the White House in February, citing problems receiving a permanent security clearance.

In the Trump administration, Catanzaro helped design policy proposals to help deliver on the president’s campaign promises to give a boost to coal -- and the miners who extract it -- as well as slash "job-killing" regulation. That included a directive for agencies to identify policies holding back domestic energy production, an initial plan to rewrite a major water pollution regulation and the launch of a fresh review of U.S. nuclear power policy.

Catanzaro’s career has been steeped in energy and environment policy. Before CGCN, he worked on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, served as a campaign adviser on energy and environmental matters to George W. Bush and was an associate director for policy in the White House Council on Environmental Quality. He also served as a senior adviser to former House Speaker John Boehner on energy and environmental policy.

— With assistance by Bill Allison


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