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Communications Director

Laura Keehner Rigas serves as the communications director for the Department of the Interior.

Laura Keehner Rigas began her career working for the conservative American Enterprise Institute, before serving in the George W. Bush administration. Rigas then held high-level communications positions at the Business Executives for National Security, American Conservative Union, lobbying firm Wise Public Affairs, and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education.

Sources: [Corbin Hiar, “7 former Hill aides among 19 staffers joining Zinke’s team,” Energy & Environment, 05/20/17, Kellie Lunney, “Former Bush official to head press shop,” Energy & Environment, 04/07/17 and LinkedIn Profile for Laura Keehner Rigas, accessed 06/19/17]

Special Interests

American Enterprise Institute (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Rigas worked as a government liaison at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank that has received at least $325,000 in funding from ExxonMobil.

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American Conservative Union (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Rigas was the communications director for the American Conservative Union, which receives significant funding from big oil, including Chevron, the Koch brothers, and the Anschutz Foundation, which is funded by oil tycoon Philip Anschutz.

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Wise Public Affairs (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Rigas was the Vice President for Strategic Communications at Wise Public Affairs, a lobbying firm that advises corporate executives on threats from the media, regulatory agencies, activist groups and other outside forces.

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Background Information

Previous Employers

Additional Background on Employers of Note:

From 2001 to 2003 Laura Keehner Rigas worked as a government liaison at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank that has received at least $325,000 in funding from ExxonMobil.

[Natasha Geiling, “Exxon Is Still Helping Fund The Spread Of Climate Denial,” ThinkProgress, 07/11/16 and LinkedIn Profile for Laura Keehner Rigas, accessed 06/19/17]

From 2012 to 2014, Laura Keehner Rigas was the communications director for the American Conservative Union, which had significant financial support from “big oil,” including at least $95,000 from Chevron, the Koch brothers, and the Anschutz Foundation, which is “funded by oil tycoon Philip Anschutz.”

Since 2009, former Koch Industries Executive Director of Federal Affairs Matt Schlapp has been an ACU board member, and Koch Industries sponsored the “‘VIP Ronald Reagan Dinner Reception'” at the 2013 CPAC meeting.

In this role, she was “responsible for managing all the communications activities of ACU and its public outreach strategy, including the national and regional Conservative Political Action Conferences (CPAC).” The American Conservative Union, along with the ACU Foundation, receives significant financial support from “big oil,” including at least $95,000 from Chevron, the Koch brothers, and the Anschutz Foundation, which is “funded by oil tycoon Philip Anschutz.”

Since 2009, former Koch Industries Executive Director of Federal Affairs Matt Schlapp has been an ACU board member, and in 2013, Koch Industries, “a major player in U.S. oil and gas industry, sponsored the ‘VIP Ronald Reagan Dinner Reception'” at the annual CPAC meeting.

[American Conservative Union, Press Release, 06/04/12, Eli Clifton, “Why CPAC Isn’t As Grassroots As You Think,” Slate, 03/07/14, and LinkedIn Profile for Laura Keehner Rigas, accessed 06/19/17]

From 2014 to 2015, Laura Keehner Rigas was the Vice President for Strategic Communications at Wise Public Affairs, a lobbying firm that “advises corporate executives on… threats from… the media, regulatory agencies, activist groups and other outside forces.”

According to their website, Wise Public Affairs “work[s] aggressively on behalf of [their] clients to identify, neutralize and/or mitigate reputational and regulatory risk through results-driven strategic advocacy campaigns, risk management planning, and due diligence initiatives.” The firm “advises corporate executives on practices for proactively identifying and planning for threats from market competitors, the media, regulatory agencies, activist groups and other outside forces.”

[“About Us,” Wise Public Affairs, accessed 06/19/17 and LinkedIn Profile for Laura Keehner Rigas, accessed 06/19/17]

Political Connections

Laura Keehner Rigas has donated at least $8,285 to Republican politicians and the Republican party.

Since 2012, Laura Keehner Rigas has donated at least $8,285 in political contributions, including a donation of $1,900 to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign and more than $600 to the Massachusetts Republican party.

[FEC Search for Laura Rigas and Laura Keehner, accessed 06/23/17, and National Institute for Money in State Politics Search for Laura Keehner Rigas, accessed 06/23/17]

Other Information

Laura Keehner Rigas, in 2013, sent a “nasty” email to a Washington Post reporter trying to interview the President of Rigas’ organization.

Laura Keehner Rigas, in 2013, sent a “nasty” email to a Washington Post reporter in response to a request to interview the American Conservative Union’s President.

[Jennifer Rubin, “Top Republicans sign gay-marriage brief while others exclude gay group,” Washington Post, 02/27/13]