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Primary Member, Mineral/Energy Stakeholder, Royalty Policy Committee

Randall Luthi was named a primary member of the Department of Interior’s Royalty Policy Committee, and as a member of this committee advises Secretary Zinke “on policy and strategies to improve management of the multi-billion dollar, federal and American Indian mineral revenue program.”

Randall Luthi is a staunch oil and gas ally who oversaw the Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) in the George W. Bush administration, when it “was embroiled in an ethics scandal involving allegations of financial self-dealing, accepting gifts from energy companies, cocaine use and sexual misconduct.”

A Wyoming native, Randall Luthi began working in politics as “an intern for then Congressman Dick Cheney,” and next as “a legislative assistant for then Senator Alan K. Simpson.” Luthi “served in the Department of Interior under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush” and was “an attorney/advisor in the Solicitor’s Office at DOI from 1986 to 1990 and Senior Counselor for Environmental Regulations at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration in the Department of Commerce from 1990 to 1993.” In the mid-1990s, Luthi returned to Wyoming to serve in the Wyoming House of Representatives, where he served as Speaker in 2005 and 2006, and to start “the law firm of Luthi & Voyles.” In early 2007, Luthi returned to DC to serve as “deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under George W. Bush” and then from “mid-2007 to late 2009,” he “served as head of Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS).” (The department Luthi oversaw was “reorganized after BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster due to conflict-of-interest and oversight issues.”) In March 2010, soon after leaving the federal government, Luthi went through the revolving door and “became President of the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA),” a “group that represents the offshore drilling industry.” According to NOIA’s 2015 tax filings, the most recent year for which records are available, NOIA paid Luthi over $600,000.

Sources: [Department of Interior, Press Release, 09/01/17, “Randall B. Luthi, Director, ” Minerals Management Service, accessed via wayback machine, “Randall Luthi,” National Ocean Industries Association, accessed 09/21/17, Sue Sturgis, “The energy lobbyists linked to Trump’s offshore drilling plans,” Facing South, 04/14/17, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Press Release, 02/05/07, “National Ocean Industries Association 990 Form,” ProPublica, 2015, “Bush’s Department of Interior: Sex, Drugs, and Oil?,” ThinkProgress, 05/20/10, and Mia Steinle, “FOIA Friday: Emails between Ethics Office and Former Regulator Cast Light on Revolving Door Spin,” Project on Government Oversight, 12/02/11]

Special Interests

National Ocean Industries Association (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Luthi is President of National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), a "group that represents the offshore drilling industry."

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also connected to:

BP (Resource Development on Public Lands)

In 2007, Luthi co-signed the environmental review that allowed BP to drill in the Mississippi Canyon 252 site, the site of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

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Taylor Energy (Resource Development on Public Lands)

After he left the Interior Department, Luthi provided “‘consultation advice’” for oil company Taylor Energy in its dealings with MMS, the agency he led at Interior.

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Chevron (Resource Development on Public Lands)

When Luthi was MMS Director, an IG investigation found that MMS employees "got drunk at social events with employees of oil companies doing business with the agency and… had 'brief sexual relationships' with industry contacts." Chevron was one of the companies named in the report.

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Shell Oil Company (Resource Development on Public Lands)

When Luthi was MMS Director, an IG investigation found that MMS employees "got drunk at social events with employees of oil companies doing business with the agency and… had 'brief sexual relationships' with industry contacts." Shell Oil was one of the companies named in the report.

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Hess Corporation (Resource Development on Public Lands)

When Luthi was MMS Director, an IG investigation found that MMS employees "got drunk at social events with employees of oil companies doing business with the agency and… had 'brief sexual relationships' with industry contacts." Hess Corporation was one of the companies named in the report.

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also connected to:

Gary-Williams Energy Corporation (Resource Development on Public Lands)

When Luthi was MMS Director, an IG investigation found that MMS employees "got drunk at social events with employees of oil companies doing business with the agency and… had 'brief sexual relationships' with industry contacts." Gary-Williams Energy Corporation was one of the companies named in the report.

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Background Information

Previous Employers

Department of Commerce

Department of the Interior

Wyoming House of Representatives

Luthi & Voyles

National Ocean Industries Association

Additional Background on Employers of Note: 

While Randall Luthi was the head of DOI’s Minerals Management Service (MMS), staffers in its Lake Charles, Louisiana, district office “accepted sport event tickets, lunches,” “hunting trips and other gifts from the oil and gas companies they were regulating.”

Randall Luthi “served as head of Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS)” from “mid-2007 to late 2009.” [Sue Sturgis, “The energy lobbyists linked to Trump’s offshore drilling plans,” Facing South, 04/14/17]

In May 2010, an Interior Inspector General report noted “a number of violations of federal regulations and agency ethics rules by employees of MMS’ Lake Charles, LA, district office from 2000-2008.” The report found that “staffers in the office… accepted sport event tickets, lunches,” “hunting trips and other gifts from the oil and gas companies they were regulating.” Some of the staffers who accepted the gifts “were tasked with inspections of offshore drilling platforms located in the Gulf of Mexico.” In one case, “an inspector admitted using crystal methamphetamine and said he might have been under the influence of the drug the next day at work.” [Department of the Interior, Press Release, 05/25/10, and “Ethics Rules Imposed after Sex-for-Oil Scandal,” CBS, 08/31/10]

When Randall Luthi ran the Minerals Management Service, a 2008 inspector general report found that, between 2002 and 2006, Interior employees in the Denver MMS office “got drunk at social events with employees of oil companies doing business with the agency and MMS workers had ‘brief sexual relationships’ with industry contacts.” Amid calls for his resignation, Luthi defended the actions of the MMS employees, saying that he did “‘not believe Americans ha[d] lost financially'” from the scandal.

When Randall Luthi headed the Interior Department’s Mineral Management Service, the agency “was involved in a deep ethics scandal that ‘[included] allegations of financial self-dealing, accepting gifts from energy companies, cocaine use and sexual misconduct.”[“Bush’s Department of Interior: Sex, Drugs, and Oil?,” ThinkProgress, 05/20/10]

In September 2008, an “Interior Department Inspector General investigation” found that a “‘culture of substance abuse and promiscuity'” was pervasive in the Denver Minerals Management Service office “from 2002 through 2006.” The report found that government workers “got drunk at social events with employees of oil companies doing business with the agency and MMS workers had ‘brief sexual relationships’ with industry contacts,” and “also highlight[ed] instances where co-workers in the office used cocaine and marijuana.” The oil companies named in the IG report were Chevron, Shell Oil, Hess Corp., and Gary Williams Energy Corp. [“Employees Fired Over Sex-For-Oil Scandal,” Associated Press, 11/21/08, and Tom Doggett, “US Interior Secy ‘outraged’ by oil-sex scandal,” Reuters, 09/11/08]

Even though all “the abuses found by investigators occurred before Randall Luthi took office,” Luthi “spent the last four months of his tenure fighting off calls for his resignation.” In response to the inspector general’s report, Luthi “defended the agency against charges by the DOI inspector general.” He claimed he did “‘not believe Americans ha[d] lost financially,'” but he “admitted ‘it [was] too early to tell’ if government workers gave oil companies financial favors at the expense of taxpayers.” [Rick Outzen, “BP Oil Spill Lawsuit: Cousins Randall Luthi and Jeffery Luthi Pose Conflict of Interest in Case,” Daily Beast, 05/21/10, and Tom Doggett, “US Interior Secy ‘outraged’ by oil-sex scandal,” Reuters, 09/11/08]

In 2007, Randall Luthi co-signed the “environmental review” that allowed BP to drill at the site of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

On April 20, 2010, “a drilling rig owned by Transocean and hired by BP to drill into the Macondo field experienced a series of problems that led to a massive blowout. Investigators later faulted BP and its contractors for fatal missteps… BP’s Macondo well was located in Mississippi Canyon Block 252.” [“Louisiana oil company set to drill near site of Deepwater Horizon spill,” Associated Press, 05/13/15]

“The Minerals Management Service approved BP’s blown out Mississippi Canyon 252 well.” The last environmental review “standing between BP and drilling at the Mississippi Canyon 252 site should have been the October 2007 Minerals Management Service environmental assessment of the ‘Proposed Gulf of Mexico OCS Oil and Gas Lease Sale 206.'” But the MMS’ environmental assessment found “no new significant impact.” This assessment, co-signed by Randall Luthi, “paved the way for” the BP oil spill. [Joshua Dorner, “Cheney’s Culture of Deregulation and Corruption,” Center for American Progress, 06/09/10]

Political Connections

Randall Luthi, since 2001, has donated $71,775 to politicians and political action committees, including to Scott Angelle, the current Director of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

Randall Luthi has donated to the Wyoming Republican Party, NOIA’s Political Action Committee, Liz Cheney, and John Barasso, among others. In 2016, Luthi donated $500 to Scott Angelle’s congressional race; Angelle is currently working in the Interior Department as the Director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

[Political Moneyline Search for Randall Luthi, CQ, accessed 09/21/17, and Mark Schleifstein, “Louisiana politician Scott Angelle chosen to head federal offshore oil safety agency,” Times-Picayune, 05/23/17]

Other Information

Randall Luthi has been described as “a close ally of Dick Cheney.”

[“Bush’s Department of Interior: Sex, Drugs, and Oil?,” ThinkProgress, 05/20/10]

After he left the Department of the Interior, Randall Luthi “sat on a law firm review panel ‘to provide consultation advice’ for oil company Taylor Energy in its dealings with” DOI’s Minerals Management Service (MMS).

Although it was “legal for Luthi to advise Taylor Energy” “as long as he didn’t represent the company before DOI,” critics observed that Luthi could “use his knowledge of the inner-workings of DOI drilling regulation to Taylor’s benefit—an unfair advantage,” and that Luthi turned his former career working for the federal government and “financed by taxpayer dollars into a consulting gig.”

[Mia Steinle, “FOIA Friday: Emails between Ethics Office and Former Regulator Cast Light on Revolving Door Spin,” Project on Government Oversight, 12/02/11]

Jeffrey Luthi, Randall Luthi’s first cousin, was a clerk of the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, which decided which court would hear the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill case. Jeffrey Luthi “denied a motion by the plaintiffs,” who were “commercial fishermen, shrimpers, and others affected by the BP oil spill,” “to expedite the hearings on BP’s motion” to transfer the case to Houston, which would give the company “a huge home field advantage.”

At the time of the “investigation and litigation phases in the case of the Deepwater Horizon explosion,” some critics pointed to possible conflict of interest issues concerning Randall Luthi, whose agency was in charge of regulating “BP and its Deepwater Horizon floating platform,” and Jeffery Luthi, Randall Luthi’s first cousin, who was “a clerk of the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation,” which was the “judicial panel that… render[ed] a crucial decision about where the lawsuits… [would] be tried.”

BP was advocating for “consolidating all the lawsuits into a federal court in Houston,” which would “give BP a huge home field advantage.” Although the case was ultimately tried in New Orleans, Jeffrey Luthi did “den[y] a motion by the plaintiffs,” who were “commercial fishermen, shrimpers, and others affected by the BP oil spill,” “to expedite the hearings on BP’s motion.” [Rick Outzen, “BP Oil Spill Lawsuit: Cousins Randall Luthi and Jeffery Luthi Pose Conflict of Interest in Case,” Daily Beast, 05/21/10, and Debbie Elliott, “BP Back In Court For Final Phase of Gulf Oil Spill Trial,” NPR, 01/20/15]

Randall Luthi has praised the oil and gas industry’s efforts to increase safety and claimed that government regulations could end up “weakening safety instead of enhancing it.”

In a 2016 op-ed published the month of the “sixth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” Randall Luthi praised the offshore drilling industry’s efforts to “make accessing America’s offshore oil and natural gas resources safer than ever before” since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In the same op-ed, he claimed that the “Obama administration’s… well control rule impose[d] additional costly requirements on offshore drilling operations” and insinuated that “costly new regulations” could “ended up weakening safety instead of enhancing it.” [Randall Luthi, “Lessons from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill,” Washington Times, 04/19/16]

In 2016, when President Obama banned oil and gas drilling off parts of the East Coast, Randall Luthi said that Obama’s action “‘violat[ed] the letter and spirit of the law.'”

[Dave Mayfield, “Obama extends ban on Atlantic drilling, including off Virginia coast. What will Trump do?Virginian-Pilot, 12/20/16]

Randall Luthi claimed that the “‘Keep it in the Ground’” campaign to “stop the extraction of fossil fuels from federal lands” is “anti-energy, economically destructive and short-sighted.”

Randall Luthi, in 2016, claimed that “extreme environmental groups” had been “emboldened by the Obama Administration’s anti-oil and gas leasing decisions.” The “extreme environmental groups” were “gain[ing] traction” with the “‘Keep it in the Ground’ campaign,” a campaign to “stop the extraction of fossil fuels from federal lands.”

Luthi continued, “‘Keep it in the Ground’ is an anti-energy, economically destructive and short-sighted concept that will bring no meaningful reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a huge hole in federal and state budgets, higher pump prices, and a void in U.S. global energy leadership.” [Randall Luthi,”‘Keep It In The Ground’ should be buried,” The Hill, 05/24/16]

In 2014, Randall Luthi alleged that environmentalists had “waged a full-on information war” to impede offshore energy production.

He claimed that “hyperbole from some environmental groups,” and in particular the “wild assertion” that seismic surveys threatened marine wildlife, was “absolutely untrue.” [Randall Luthi, “Energy’s Promising Future Threatened by Unrealistic Fears and Overstated Risks,” Morning Consult, 09/30/14]

Randall Luthi has advocated for oil and gas development in the Arctic.

In a 2015 op-ed, Randall Luthi wrote, “there is still great potential for resources in the [Arctic], and the Alaskan Arctic remains an attractive, yet expensive, possibility” for oil and natural gas development. [Randall Luthi, “Shell’s Decision to Suspend Arctic Activities: Retreat or Pause?Morning Consult, 10/05/15]

Randall Luthi, in 2017, said that, in terms of future offshore drilling opportunities, “‘The Arctic still holds a lot of promise.'”[Juliet Eilperin, “Trump signs executive order to expand drilling off America’s coasts: ‘We’re opening it up’,” Washington Post, 04/28/17]