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Senior Counselor

In July 2018, Hubbel Relat began working as an advisor to DOI Solicitor Dan Jorjani. In January 2019, he was a counselor to Secretary David Bernhardt. Since April 2019, he’s been working as a Senior Counselor at Interior. 

Relat is a partisan political operative who owes most of his successes to the Koch brothers and the power of dark money. Since attending the Koch-tied George Mason University for law school, Relat has worked for no less than four Koch-affiliated organizations – Fueling U.S. Forward, American Energy Alliance, Freedom Partners, and Americans for Prosperity – and when he left the Koch network for David Bernhardt’s Department of Interior, was gifted a $30,000 severance package for his loyalty. In 2014 while working at Freedom Partners, Relat led three campaigns which spent a total of $20 million, and believes he helped the GOP pick up a “net shift of 9 US Senate seats.”

Sources: [LinkedIn Profile for Hubbel Relat, accessed 07/26/19; Public Financial Disclosure Report for Hubbel Relat, 05/15/19; New York Times, 05/05/18, New York Times, 01/05/17, Rewire News, 03/09/18]

Background Information

Previous Employers

Additional Background on Employers of Note: 

Hubbel Relat worked for Freedom Partners, the “central group” in the “increasingly powerful network of conservative public policy and political groups helmed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.” As Relat left Freedom Partners, before he joined the Department of Interior, he was given a $30,000 “severance” payment.

Hubbel Relat listed Freedom Partners as one of the clients of HRR Strategies in his financial disclosure. 

Freedom Partners is the “central group” in the “increasingly powerful network of conservative public policy and political groups helmed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.” 

Per his financial disclosure, Hubbel Relat got a $30,000 “severance” package from Freedom Partners, presumably as he left to join the Department of the Interior. 

Sources: [Public Financial Disclosure Report for Hubbel Relat, 05/15/19, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce Form 990, 11/12/14; Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce Form 990, 11/16/15; and Politico, 11/17/15]

Hubbel Relat worked for Government Accountability and Oversight, an organization led by Chris Horner, a “climate change skeptic […] accused of harassing climate scientists.”

Hubbel Relat listed Government Accountability and Oversight as one of the clients of HRR Strategies in his financial disclosure. 

Chris Horner is on the Board of Directors of Government Accountability and Oversight and is listed on the top attorney on every lawsuit posted on their website. 

  • “Alpha Natural Discloses Payments to Climate Change Skeptic Chris Horner. Bankrupt coal company Alpha Natural Resources Inc. paid lawyer Chris Horner $18,600 before it filed for chapter 11 this summer. Virginia-based Alpha made three $6,200 payments to Mr. Horner, an author and global warming skeptic who has been accused of harassing climate scientists, between May and July of this year, according to documents filed earlier this month in the company’s bankruptcy case. The relationship between Alpha and Mr. Horner, whose books include ‘Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud and Deception to Keep You Misinformed’ and ‘The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism.'” 

Sources: [Public Financial Disclosure Report for Hubbel Relat, Government Accountability and Oversight, Team Members, accessed 07/25/19 and Cases, accessed 07/25/19, 05/15/19,  Wall Street Journal, 10/15/15]

Hubbel Relat worked for Center for Freedom and Prosperity, an obscure dark-money group in Alexandria, Virginia, that “protects tax havens for the rich.” This group was caught up in the Panama Papers scandal when it was revealed it solicited funds from the Panama law firm to try to convince the Bush administration to “protect the players of the offshore world” from tax policy changes.

In June 2014, Hubbel Relat attended the Koch Brothers’ secretive billionaire summit which “featured a who’s who of Republican political elites […] According to another source who also attended the conference, 300 individuals—worth at least a billion each—were present […] Panelists listed include Nancy Pfotenhauer, the president of MediaSpeak Strategies and former director of the Washington office of Koch Industries; Hubbel Relat, a former associate director of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation; and Karen Steward, the Director of Research at Freedom Partners—none of whom are scientists.” 

“How an obscure nonprofit in Washington protects tax havens for the rich. In May 2007, during a global crackdown on offshore tax havens, an obscure nonprofit lobbying group in Northern Virginia sent a fundraising pitch to a law firm in one of the biggest tax havens in the world — Panama. The Center for Freedom and Prosperity promised to persuade Congress, members of the George W. Bush administration and key policymakers to protect the players of the offshore world, where hundreds of thousands of shell companies had been created, often to hide money and evade taxes. To reach out to American officials and fund its U.S. operations, the center said it needed an infusion of cash for an eight-month campaign: at least $247,000. ‘We hope you can support this effort with a donation,’ the center wrote in a document sent to Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of an international financial scandal known as the Panama Papers. The leak of more than 11.5 million documents, which came from inside the Panamanian law firm, has pulled back the curtain in recent months on secretive offshore tax havens and the people who use them to stash their money, including a rogues’ gallery of international criminals, money launderers and drug dealers.”

Sources: [The Nation, 06/17/14, Washington Post, 06/10/16]

Hubbel Relat’s work at the Koch brothers’ org Fueling U.S. Forward appeared to be centered around converting black Americans to the Koch gas and oil agenda.

A December 2016 gospel Christmas concert in Richmond Virginia “had a powerful sponsor: Fueling U.S. Forward, a public relations group for fossil fuels funded by Koch Industries, the oil and petrochemicals conglomerate led by the ultraconservative billionaire brothers David H. and Charles G. Koch. About halfway through the event, the music gave way to a panel discussion on how the holidays were made possible by energy — cheap energy, like oil and gas […] Since its start in the spring of 2016, Fueling U.S. Forward has sent delegates to, or hosted, at least three events aimed at black voters, arguing that they benefit most from cheap and abundant fossil fuels and have the most to lose if energy costs rise […] The Richmond gospel concert was organized by Fueling U.S. Forward, the nonprofit Reaching America and Radio One, which caters to black listeners. Representing Fueling U.S. Forward was Hubbel Relat, a former vice president at the American Energy Alliance, which has received funding from Freedom Partners, a central group in the Koch network. He discussed what high energy costs could mean for households in Richmond, which has a large African-American population. And he encouraged audience members to contact their legislators to lodge concerns about energy costs, said Clovia Lawrence, a local journalist and radio personality who helped host the show.”

Sources: [New York Times, 01/05/17]

Hubbel Relat worked for Reaching America, a group partnered with the American Petroleum Institute, that pushes the narrative that minority communities oppose renewable energy solutions and want more offshore drilling and natural gas.

Hubbel Relat listed Reaching America as one of the clients of HRR Strategies in his financial disclosure. 

Derrick Hollie, President of Reaching America testified at the House Natural Resources Committee in February 2019, saying, “For members of the African American community, Energy Poverty is a reality. Members of our community don’t have the luxury to pay more for green technologies. We need access to affordable energy to help heat our homes, power our stoves and get back and forth to work each day.” 

In August 2018, Derrick Hollie wrote an op-ed in the Daily Press, advocating offshore drilling as a boon to minorities and people of color, writing, “there could be a solution sitting off the Atlantic coast that could provide our state and its minority communities with some relief, but without exploring we’ll never know how vast the oil and gas deposits off our shores actually are […] By exploring and possibly tapping into our nation’s oil and gas deposits, we can look to provide long-term reliable energy for poorer families in Virginia where individuals spend an estimated $3,288 annually on energy and where the state ranks 10th in the nation for average monthly residential electricity consumption according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).” 

Reaching America is a part of the American Petroleum Institute’s “Explore Offshore” coalition, whose “mission is to unite supporters of offshore energy development and promote its benefits and its importance to our nation’s economy and energy security.”

  • “The largest U.S. oil and gas lobby group is seeking to convince Hispanic and black communities to support the Trump administration’s proposed expansion of offshore drilling, arguing it would create high paying jobs, including for storm-displaced Puerto Ricans. The American Petroleum Institute (API) launched its ‘Explore Offshore’ campaign earlier this month to counter offshore drilling foes in coastal southeast states from Virginia to Florida, where lawmakers and governors on both sides of the aisle have expressed fear an oil spill could ruin tourism.” 

Sources: [Public Financial Disclosure Report for Hubbel Relat, 05/15/19, House Natural Resources Committee, 02/06/19, Daily Press, 08/18/18, Explore Offshore “Coalition,” accessed 07/25/19Reuters, 06/22/18]

While at American Energy Alliance, Hubbel Relat spoke out against the Clean Power Plan, a state-based plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that was repealed by the Trump Administration, calling it “illegal.”

On his LinkedIn profile, Hubbel Relat listed Reaching America as his employer from April 2015 to June 2016. 

“Hubbel Relat, vice president for state policy and general counsel for the American Energy Alliance, a conservative group that supports states halting work on the Clean Power Plan, said in an email the Kansas law is important even though the state drew back from planning efforts after the stay. ‘While the state appears to have stopped most planning, this legislation sends a signal that elected officials in Kansas are serious about protecting their residents from this rule,’ Relat said.” 

  • “It’s easy enough to describe the basics of the Clean Power Plan, President Obama’s sweeping new policy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from America’s power plants. Heck, we can do it in a single paragraph. The EPA is giving each state an individual goal for cutting power plant emissions. States can then decide for themselves how to get there. They can switch from coal to natural gas, expand renewables or nuclear, boost energy efficiency, enact carbon pricing … it’s up to them. States just have to submit their plans by 2016-2018, start cutting by 2022 at the latest, and then keep cutting through 2030. Oh, and if states refuse to submit a plan, the EPA will impose its own federal plan, which could involve some sort of cap-and-trade program. Done.” 
  • Hubbel Relat gave testimony in the Kansas Senate, saying, “All states, including Kansas, are facing a crucial decision over the coming months. The federal government has saddled States with an expensive, illegal, and convoluted regulation that will have far-reaching implications for future generations.” 

“The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Tuesday that Scott Pruitt, the chief of the agency, had signed a measure to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, setting up a bitter fight over the future of America’s efforts to tackle global warming. Mr. Pruitt, who had signaled the move at an event with coal miners in eastern Kentucky on Monday, said in a news release that his predecessors had departed from regulatory norms in writing the Clean Power Plan, which was finalized in 2015 and would have pushed states to move away from coal in favor of sources of electricity that produce fewer carbon emissions.”

Source: [LinkedIn Profile for Hubbel Relat, E & E News, 05/10/16, accessed 07/26/19Vox, 08/05/15Hubbel Relat Testimony, 01/28/16New York Times, 10/09/17]

While at American Energy Alliance, Hubbel Relat was involved in messaging on the partisan Republican stunt to block President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee following Antonin Scalia’s passing.

“Clean Power Plan foes, on the other hand, threw their support behind Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has said Republicans will not hold confirmation hearings for Garland. Both the American Energy Alliance and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity cited the Clean Power Plan in their opposition to the president’s move to fill the empty seat […] Hubbel Relat, general counsel for the American Energy Alliance, said Scalia himself would have supported Republicans’ plan to wait for a nominee from the next president.”

“Greens aren’t the only ones looking to influence the nomination fight. Some energy interests are pushing members and lawmakers from the other side, urging the Senate to hold off on advancing an Obama nominee. The Washington, D.C.-based conservative group American Energy Alliance is preparing to work ‘with local partners and to educate folks in the states about what’s on the line here,’ said Hubbel Relat, the group’s general counsel. The group has already blogged about why the vacancy shouldn’t be filled until after the November elections, and it’s planning further outreach to supporters using social and digital media.”

Source: [E & E News, 03/17/16E & E News, 03/15/16]

Current Activity

FOIA Rule Change

Hubbel Relat was behind the FOIA rule change making it harder for the public “to get those public records” from the Department of Interior.

“Now a new rule proposed by Interior in December appears designed to make it harder for groups like Western Values Project to get those public records. The rule would give the agency greater discretion over how it handles public records requests. For instance, the agency would require individuals or organizations to be more specific in which documents they want. It also allows a cap on the number of documents Interior processes for individuals and organizations every month […] ‘They are more voluminous,’ said Hubbel Relat, counselor to Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. ‘They’ve delved a little deeper into the quest for a range of information that appears to, at times, be asking for every document that’s ever been created by the Department of the Interior.’ If the requests aren’t responded to within 20 workdays or processed within a timely manner, the Interior Department can be sued. Western Values has filed six lawsuits against Interior in the past two years; at the end of fiscal year 2018, the Interior Department was facing nearly 130 FOIA-related lawsuits. Relat said all this litigation has slowed down the processing of public records requests for everyone else, including those who can’t afford to litigate and must wait even longer for a response.”

Source: [NPR, 02/17/19]

Delay & Tampering Of FOIA Documents

Hubbel Relat delayed the release of responsive FOIA documents related to the replacement of popular Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk to The Hill.

“The release of internal documents sought by The Hill related to the replacement last year of Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk were delayed by the Interior Department under a new rule that gives political appointees more say over what is released. Interior political officials held back the release of a set of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents for nearly a month after some officials questioned whether the materials should have been provided to The Hill […] FOIA officials first flagged the four responsive documents set to be released to The Hill on March 6 to political appointees as part of the newly implemented Interior policy known as an ‘awareness review.’ The policy allows senior political officials referenced in FOIA requests to see the documents 72 hours prior to their release to any reporter or watchdog group that requested the public data. ‘[The FOIA documents are] slated to be released on March 12, 2019. The attached documents are being provided to you for 72 Awareness Review,’ Charis Wilson, NPS FOIA officer, wrote to Interior officials. A day before the documents were set to go out, Interior’s top lawyer, Hubbel Relat, responded to the email, requesting a delay. ‘We’re reviewing now. Could we get a bit more time? Thanks!’ he said. Both Willens and Smith were able to view the documents before their release, according to the internal emails.”

Source: [The Hill, 06/19/19]

Hubbel Relat asked for the delay of documents responsive to a FOIA request from The Hill to subjected it to more time under the to the political “awareness review” process.

On February 13, 2019, the NPS FOIA office set up Political Awareness Review of NPS-2018-00874, a FOIA by Miranda Green at The Hill. This FOIA was to be reviewed by Todd Willens and P. Dan Smith, and later by Randal Bowman and Todd Willens. NPS’s FOIA office had scheduled the documents to go out on March 12, 2019, but on March 11, Hubbel Relat emailed the NPS FOIA office and asked for “a bit more time” to review. Relat also forwarded the documents to Solicitor attorney Katie Mills, who emailed the FOIA office that she had some “questions/comments,” and questioned why 10 pages of texts where included in the release.

Source: [Documents responsive to NPS-2019-01004, page 149, 154, 163, 166]

Internal documents show Hubbel Relat was also involved in the political review of the WVP NPS FOIA that was tampered with.

Regarding responsive records for WVP’s FOIA on Heather Swift-Elaine Hackett Comms (NPS-2018-00843), Hubbel Relat wrote that he had a “pending question we are trying to work through” with Downey Magallanes and NPS FOIA Officer Jessica McHugh. These documents were also sent to Caroline Boulton and Downey Magallanes on July 26, 2018. 

  • After FOIA officials identified 96 pages of responsive material to WVP’s request, WVP only received 16 pages. A month later, Jessica McHugh, a career official handling the request, told the group that after completing a search of their records. Officials had identified 96 pages of ‘potentially responsive materials that is currently in the review process,’ and the department hoped to complete the request within the next few weeks […] When the Western Values Project finally got the records, the documents considered “responsive” were reduced to 16 pages.”

Sources: [Documents responsive to NPS-2019-01004, pages 71-77; 86-90; 93-143Roll Call, 5/22/19]

Political Connections

In the 2014 campaign cycle, Hubbel Relat led three Freedom Partners campaigns which spent a total of $20 million, and helped the GOP pick up a “net shift of 9 US Senate seats.”

On his LinkedIn, Hubbel Relat claims that in the 2014 campaign cycle, while at Freedom Partners, he “Executed three issue campaigns totaling $20M resulting in increased public opposition to Obamacare, stopping repeal of the Budget Control Act, and successfully opposing a federal carbon tax” and “integrated test-and-learn approach to grassroots advocacy, quantitative/qualitative market analysis, and data-driven paid media strategy to maximize GOTV among target audiences and contribute to a net shift of 9 US Senate seats.”

Source: [LinkedIn Profile for Hubbel Relat, accessed 07/25/19]

Hubbel Relat was a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association.

Hubbel Relat was a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association.

Source: [Republican National Lawyers Association, accessed via the Wayback Machine, 12/10/16]

In 2008, Hubbel Relat got an $130 per diem from the Republican National Committee.

In October 2008, Hubbel Relat got an $130 per diem from the Republican National Committee.

Source: [FEC, RNC, accessed 07/25/19]

Financials

Financial Disclosure

Source: [Office of the Solicitor]

 

Department of Interior Salary: $114,590

Source: [Hubbel Relat, ProPublica’s Trump Town, accessed 07/17/19]

Other Information

Hubbel Relat spoke at a 2014 Koch brothers’ secret conference attended by 300 billionaires and the “who’s who of Republican political elites.”

In June 2014, Hubbel Relat spoke on a panel session called “Energy: Changing the Narrative” at the Koch brothers’ “highly secretive mega-donor conference, called ‘American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society,’ featured a who’s who of Republican political elites […] According to another source who also attended the conference, 300 individuals—worth at least a billion each—were present.”

Source: [The Nation, 06/17/14]

In 2006, Hubbel Relat was “all about” a birthday party at 1223, a DC club with reservable beds and an upstairs VIP lounge called Spank.

In 2006, Hubbel Relat was invited to a birthday party at a place called 1223, and commented: “I’m all about it.” 

“The club MCCXXIII, known as 1223, has closed its doors after a decade on the popular Connecticut Avenue strip north of M Street […] MCCXXIII was one of Washington’s first pricey bottle-service clubs, and its upstairs VIP lounge, Spank, was the first local club to jump on the ‘reserve-a-bed’ trend back in 2002.”

Sources: [Facebook event, 09/06/06Washington Post, 01/23/09]

Hubbel Relat liked a post on LinkedIn suggesting “nature, not man, is climate change driver.”

In 2018, Hubbel Relat liked a post on LinkedIn from the President of a conservative climate group that read, “97% consensus revisited: Survey responses of 1077 professional engineers and geoscientists shows majority believe nature, not man, is climate change driver.”

Source: [LinkedIn post by Craig Rucker, 2018]

As a student in 2008, Hubbel Relat “raised concerns” about Virginia climate change initiatives, inferring those leading on climate change policy were just “claiming leadership.”

As a law student in 2008 at George Mason, at a meeting of the Governor’s Commission on Climate Change, Hubbel Relat “raised concerns he had about the correlation between global temperature rises and CO2 emissions and cautioned that that any climate change initiatives that Virginia would take should be done for actual impact and relevance rather than for claiming leadership.”

Source: [Governor’s Commission on Climate Change, 05/13/08]

Hubbel Relat has repeatedly been ticketed and fined for expired vehicle registrations.

In January 2019, Hubbel Relat was charged with having an expired vehicle registration in Fairfax County, Virginia. He skipped his court hearing on January 23, 2019, at 9:30 am and was found guilty in absentia. He was fined a total of $137, which he paid February 1, 2019. 

In 2009, Hubbel Relat was charged with having expired vehicle tags and a parking violation in Arlington County, Virginia.

Sources: [Virginia General District Court Online Case Information System, Case Number GT09042511-00, accessed 07/09/19]

Hubbel Relat may have worked at DC London, a Republican campaign consulting firm.

Despite not listing them as an employer, Hubbel Relat appears to have had an email address with DC London, a Republican campaign consulting firm.

Sources: [Republican National Lawyers Association, accessed via the Wayback Machine, 12/10/16 and DC London, accessed 07/18/19]