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Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget

On September 5, 2018, the Department of the Interior announced that Robert Gordon is the new Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget in the Department of the Interior.

Robert Gordon, from 1989 to 2004, was the executive director at the now-defunct National Wilderness Institute, which to those in the “mainstream” was “a front for conservatives, ranchers, big business and other environmental foes.” He “left the oil industry-funded environmental group in 2004 to support the failed” Endangered Species Act (ESA) “reform efforts” of former House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo. From 2004 to 2007, Robert Gordon worked on the House Natural Resources Committee. From 2007 to 2008 he was president of Responsible Resources, and from 2008 to 2015 he was a Senior Advisor at the Heritage Foundation. From 2015 to 2017 he was the Staff Director on the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. In 2017 he returned to the Heritage Foundation as a Senior Research Fellow.

Robert Gordon was also briefly a consultant operating as the Gordon Resources Group, which he started in 2008, and he “recently worked as an adjunct fellow at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute,” which receives funding from Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers, and the oil and gas industry.

In 2016 he served on the Trump transition team.

Robert Gordon also served as a board member on the Commonwealth of Virginia Board of Conservation and Recreation from 1997 to 2002.

Sources: [Michael Doyle, “Former Alaska AG picked to lead policy office,” Greenwire, 09/05/18, LinkedIn Profile for Robert Gordon, accessed 11/01/18, Legistorm Profile for Robert Gordon, accessed 11/01/18, Fredrick Kunkle, “Environmental Group’s Agenda Is Questioned,” The Washington Post, 01/28/02, Corbin Hiar, “Battle over landmark law already raging out of public eye,” Greenwire, 04/17/17, Timothy Cama, “Zinke hires Endangered Species Act critic for senior post,” The Hill, 09/05/18, Juliet Eilperin, “Anatomy of a Washington dinner: Who funds the Competitive Enterprise Institute?The Washington Post, 06/20/13, Isaac Arnsdorf, “More lobbyists on the transition,” Politico, 11/11/16, Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporation Commission Summary for Gordon Resources Group, LLC, and Rob Gordon, Personal Financial Disclosure, 2016]

Special Interests

Heritage Foundation (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Gordon worked at the Heritage Foundation, which has received almost $800,000 from ExxonMobil and millions from the family foundations of the oil-billionaire Koch brothers.

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also connected to:

Competitive Enterprise Institute (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Gordon worked at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which receives funding from Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers, and the oil and gas industry.

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also connected to:

National Wilderness Institute (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Gordon was the Executive Director of the National Wilderness Institute, a green-scam group which was created to roll back wetlands regulation and restrictions in the Endangered Species Act.

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also connected to:

Political Connections

Robert Gordon worked for Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee for more than five years, and in 2016 he served on the Trump transition team.

Robert Gordon, 2004 to 2007, worked on the House Natural Resources Committee. From 2015 to 2017 he was the Staff Director on the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. In 2016 he served on the Trump transition team.

Sources: [LinkedIn Profile for Robert Gordon, accessed 11/01/18, Legistorm Profile for Robert Gordon, accessed 11/01/18, and Isaac Arnsdorf, “More lobbyists on the transition,” Politico, 11/11/16]

Robert Gordon, in the 1990s, was on the board of “the Grassroots ESA Coalition, a property rights advocacy group.”

“The Grassroots ESA Coalition, a property rights advocacy group,” listed Robert Gordon “as its contact” in 1995. At the time “he was a member of the coalition’s executive board and the director of the National Wilderness Institute.”

Source: [Lisa Vorderbrueggen, “Danville pilot aims to unseat Pombo,” Contra Costa Times, 08/03/05]

Robert Gordon has contributed to the California Republican Party and Republican Congressman Richard Pombo.

Robert Gordon, in 2009, contributed $500 to the California Republican Party, and in 2010 he contributed $250 to the campaign of Republican Congressman Richard Pombo.

Source: [Political Moneyline Search for Robert E. Gordon, accessed 11/02/18]

Financials

House Natural Resources Committee Annual Salary in 2016 and 2017: $160,000

Source: [Legistorm Profile for Robert Gordon, accessed 11/01/18]

 

Other Information

Robert Gordon is “an outspoken critic of” ESA, which he thinks is “a burden to property owners.” He “has fought for decades while in positions both in an out of government to change the ESA,” which he thinks “‘has been used to stymie economic growth and trample on private property rights.’” Gordon “recently penned a report alleging that the ESA has cost the country hundreds of billions of dollars” with very few success stories. He argues “that official estimates have dramatically underestimated the cost to industry and states for complying with the ESA, and that some single species can cost billions of dollars to protect.” He thinks “ESA is so ineffective that taxpayer dollars are used to fabricate successes.” The Interior Department, in July 2018, proposed making “it easier to remove a species’s protection,” allowing “for lesser protections for species that are designated as ‘threatened,’” and making “it more difficult to protect habitats. Gordon praised the proposal.”

Robert Gordon is “an outspoken critic of” ESA. He “has fought for decades while in positions both in an out of government to change the ESA.”

Source: [Timothy Cama, “Zinke hires Endangered Species Act critic for senior post,” The Hill, 09/05/18]

He criticizes the ESA because it “is often a burden to property owners.”

Source: [Lisa Friedman, Kendra Pierre-Louis and Livia Albeck-Ripka, “Law That Saved the Bald Eagle Could Be Vastly Reworked,” The New York Times, 07/19/18]

Robert Gordon said ESA “‘has been used to stymie economic growth and trample on private property rights.’”

Source: [Louis Sahagun, “Threatened species could lose habitat protections under Department of the Interior proposal,” Los Angeles Times, 07/19/18]

Gordon “recently penned a report alleging that the ESA has cost the country hundreds of billions of dollars” with very few success stories. He “recently worked as an adjunct fellow at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute” (CEI), where “days before leaving for the government, he published a major report arguing that official estimates have dramatically underestimated the cost to industry and states for complying with the ESA, and that some single species can cost billions of dollars to protect. ‘Clearly, the bureaucratic paperwork, annual agency expenditures, and anticipated costs for recovery, while often poorly estimated and tracked, amount to tens of billions of dollars alone. Economic impacts are clearly far larger,’ Gordon wrote. ‘Whatever the ESA’s cost is, it is much larger than generally acknowledged, and likely measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars,’ he concluded. ‘Unfortunately, the ESA’s poor record of recovering species does not indicate that we are getting what we pay for.’”

Source: [Timothy Cama, “Zinke hires Endangered Species Act critic for senior post,” The Hill, 09/05/18]

Gordon wrote, “the ESA is so ineffective that taxpayer dollars are used to fabricate successes — and many species now listed should be removed from the list as mistakes or extinct.”

Source: [Robert Gordon, “Correcting Falsely ‘Recovered’ and Wrongly Listed Species and Increasing Accountability and Transparency in the Endangered Species Program,” The Heritage Foundation, 04/16/18]

The Interior Department, in July 2018, proposed making “it easier to remove a species’s protection,” allowing “for lesser protections for species that are designated as ‘threatened,’” and making “it more difficult to protect habitats. Gordon praised the proposal in a…statement through CEI.”

Source: [Timothy Cama, “Zinke hires Endangered Species Act critic for senior post,” The Hill, 09/05/18]

Robert Gordon has dedicated much of his career to criticizing and trying to weaken ESA, but he has also been critical of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. He thinks the federal government owns too much land.

Robert Gordon, in 2014, wrote, “in the West…the government owns an absurd amount of land of which National Parks are only a fraction,” and as a result “counties struggle to raise enough tax revenue to pay for things like schools and emergency services. When Uncle Sam owns 70 percent, 80 percent, or even 90 percent of the county, it shrinks the tax base,” so Congress compensates counties with Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funds.

He continued, Congress makes this problem worse by providing “hundreds of millions of dollars for the federal government to buy more land with monies from something called the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This is despite the fact that the federal government is making PILT payments precisely because of the harm caused by the enormous federal estate. The federal government already owns over 600,000,000 acres.”

“Enough already,” he concluded.

Source: [Rob Gordon, “Congress Fattens the Federal Estate and Squashes Rural Communities,” The Daily Signal, 12/10/14]