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Former Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior

Ben Keel previously served as a special assistant to the Secretary of the Interior. He left the Interior Department in June 2017.

Ben Keel has worked in Oklahoma Republican politics, beginning as candidate Thad Balkman’s campaign manager in an Oklahoma House race in 2000, and more recently working as a legislative assistant in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 2013 to 2015. He has also held positions as a field director for the Republican National Committee, as a senior field director on North Dakotans for Common Sense Conservation, and as a senior field director for Americans for Prosperity, a Koch brothers-funded group. Most recently, he worked as the Oklahoma state director on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Sources: [Rob Capriccioso, “House Natural Resources Chairman, Rob Bishop, Attacks Off-Reservation Gaming Approvals,” Indian Country Today, 04/11/17, “Trump 2016 General Election Campaign Organization, Oklahoma,” Oklahoma for Donald J. Trump Facebook page accessed via p2016.org, accessed on 05/26/17, and Department of the Interior, FOIA Response, 06/07/17; Trump Town Search for Benjamin Keel, ProPublica, accessed 03/12/18]

Special Interests

North Dakotans for Common Sense Conservation (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Keel worked for North Dakotans for Common Sense Conservation, a group that opposed a 2014 North Dakota ballot measure to divert 5% of future oil revenue to fund clean-water projects, wildlife preservation and parks.

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Americans for Prosperity (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Keel worked as a senior field director for the Missouri Chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-backed group that pushes conservative causes and pro-oil policies.

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Background Information

Previous Employers

Additional Background on Employers of Note:

In 2014, Ben Keel worked for North Dakotans for Common Sense Conservation, a group that opposed a ballot measure to divert a small percentage of future oil revenue to preservation projects.

[Ralph Vartabedian, “North Dakota to decide whether to put oil revenue into conservation,” Los Angeles Times, 10/27/14, and Department of the Interior, FOIA Response, 06/07/17]

In 2015, Ben Keel worked for Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-backed group that pushes “conservative causes and pro-oil policies.”

Ben Keel, in 2015, worked as a senior field director for Americans for Prosperity in O’Fallon, Missouri, during which time he educated the “public on Right to Work Issues in Missouri.” Americans for Prosperity is a “powerful lobbying group” “founded and partly funded by the oil billionaire Koch Brothers” that pushes “conservative causes and pro-oil policies.”

[Department of the Interior, FOIA Response, 06/07/17, Kevin McDermott, “$1.84 gas briefly coming to St. Louis Friday — courtesy of Koch brothers,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10/17/12, and Stephen Lacey, “Americans For Prosperity Calls Wind Tax Credit ‘Deplorable,’ But Defends Government Support Of Oil Companies,” ThinkProgress, 09/07/12]

Ben Keel worked as the Oklahoma state director on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

[Laura Paskus, “Meet the new Trump staffers in charge of tribal, land, water and wildlife issues,” NM Political, 03/23/17]

Financials

Financial Disclosure

[Office of Government Ethics]

Department of the Interior salary: $79,720

[Benjamin Keel, ProPublica’s Trump Town, accessed 03/15/18]

Other Information

Ben Keel is the nephew of Jefferson Keel, who was formerly the president of the National Congress of American Indians and the Chickasaw Nation Lieutenant Governor.

[“Ben Keel Named To Indian Affairs Office,” McCarville Report, 01/24/17, and Rob Capriccioso, “House Natural Resources Chairman, Rob Bishop, Attacks Off-Reservation Gaming Approvals,” Indian Country Today, 04/11/17]