Deputy Director, Office of External Affairs
Tim Williams is serving as the Deputy Director in the Office of External Affairs at the Interior Department. According to the Department of the Interior’s website, “the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs (OIEA) strengthens relationships between state and local partners and external stakeholders with the Office of the Secretary” and “also serves as liaison for governmental and non-governmental partners in communicating with Departmental offices and the Bureaus.
After working for a carpenters’ union from 1990 to 2001, he began working as a realtor in 2002. In 2011, Williams became the political director for the Clark County, Nevada Republican Party, a position he held until he took a job as campaign manager for Danny Tarkanian’s 2012 congressional race. From 2013 to 2015 Williams worked as a partner at Battleground LLC, a political consulting firm, where he “manag[ed] local, state and Congressional races.” Next Williams briefly worked as a Field Director at the “Koch brothers-backed” Americans for Prosperity before taking a position as the Deputy State Director for Nevada on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Although Williams doesn’t appear to have experience working on issues that fall within the purview of Interior, the department’s press release announcing his hire advertises that Williams is an “avid sportsman and accomplished hunter and fisherman.”
Sources: [Department of the Interior, Press Release, 05/26/17, “Intergovernmental and External Affairs,” Department of the Interior, accessed 06/09/17, “Trump 2016 General Election Campaign Organization, Nevada,” p2016.org, accessed on 06/09/17, “General Election Results,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, 11/03/10, and Ben Schreckinger, “The Nevada wild card,” Politico, 02/22/16]
Americans for Prosperity (Resource Development on Public Lands)
Williams worked as a field director in Las Vegas, Nevada for Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-backed group that pushes pro-oil policies.
also connected to:
Montana Petroleum Association (Resource Development on Public Lands)
Williams attended the Montana Petroleum Association's (MPA) annual meeting in 2017, in which he was instructed to discuss "sage grouse issues."
also connected to:
Independent Petroleum Association of America (Resource Development on Public Lands)
Timothy Williams spoke at the Independent Petroleum Association of America's Regulators' Forum on October 17, 2017.
also connected to:
- Clark County Republican Party
- Danny Tarkanian for Congress
- Battleground LLC
- Americans for Prosperity
Additional Background on Employers of Note:
From 2015 to 2016 Tim Williams worked for Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-backed group that pushes “conservative causes and pro-oil policies.”
Before joining the Trump administration, Tim Williams worked for Americans for Prosperity as a field director in Las Vegas, Nevada. 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.”
[Kevin McDermott, “$1.84 gas briefly coming to St. Louis Friday — courtesy of Koch brothers,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10/17/12, Stephen Lacey, “Americans For Prosperity Calls Wind Tax Credit ‘Deplorable,’ But Defends Government Support Of Oil Companies,” ThinkProgress, 09/07/12, and Department of the Interior, FOIA Response, 06/07/17]
In April 2019, the Interior Department Inspector General opened an investigation into whether Williams and five other Trump appointees at Interior violated federal ethics rules by engaging with their former employers or clients on department-related business.
[Juliet Eilperin and Dino Grandoni, “Six Trump Interior appointees are being investigated for possible ethical misconduct“, The Washington Post, 04/23/19]
Records obtained after the Inspector General investigation was opened indicate that not only did Williams meet with his former employer, but he also gave them a tour of Interior and discussed Interior’s plans to “rein in” Bears Ears National Monument. The records also indicate that communications between Williams’ former employer and Interior’s Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs were ongoing.
[Jimmy Tobias, “New Documents Reveal More About Alleged Ethics Violations at the Department of Interior,” Pacific Standard, 08/06/19]
Timothy Williams was a member of Secretary Zinke’s Sage-Grouse Review Team, the team tasked with examining sage grouse management plans “in light of policies set forth in Secretarial Order 3349, American Energy Independence.”
The Obama administration’s 2015 sage grouse management plan “set new management standards for federally owned land in the bird’s 11-state range and sought to coordinate with states on other policies. It was seen at the time as a way to avoid listing the sage grouse as threatened or endangered, a more blunt instrument that would have been far more restrictive.”
[Timothy Cama, “Trump administration to overhaul sage grouse conservation strategy,” The Hill, 08/07/17]
On June 8, 2017, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed Secretarial Order 3353, which “established an internal review team” to “evaluate both Federal sage-grouse plans and state plans and programs to ensure they are complementary.” The sage grouse review team was instructed to “examine the plans in light of policies set forth in Secretarial Order 3349, American Energy Independence,” and as such, the sage grouse review team was to consider adjusting or rescinding “plan provisions… based on the potential for energy and other development on public lands.”
[Press Release, Department of the Interior, 06/08/17]
Timothy Williams was a member of the Sage-Grouse Review Team.
[Sage Grouse Review, Department of the Interior, 08/07/17]
As a member of the Sage-Grouse Review Team, Timothy Williams was in close contact with the oil and gas industry in the months before Interior published its sage grouse report in August 2017. Many industry requests that various trade groups made to Williams were included in the report.
In July 2017, Samantha McDonald, the Director of Government Relations for IPAA, reached out to Timothy Williams, asking him to talk with IPAA Treasurer Diemer True, who wanted “to see a reference to the merits” of the captive raising of sage grouse in the final report. True spoke with both Williams. The August 2017 memo Interior’s sage grouse review team gave to Secretary Zinke concluded that while “further work” was “needed to evaluate captive breeding of sage-grouse,” it “recommend[ed] that new captive breeding efforts continue to be investigated to improve effectiveness.” Captive breeding of sage grouse has been described as “discredited” and “ill-advised,” as it is “expensive, technically demanding and capable of producing very few chicks.”
[Press Release, Department of Interior, 06/08/17; “Diemer True,” IPAA, accessed 01/23/18; OS-2017-001063 (Sage Grouse Comms from Industry), Pages 89-91, 92-93, 481, 105-107, 123; Jamila Blake, “Review team submits sage-grouse management recommendations,” Wildlife Society, 08/09/17; Sage Grouse Review, Department of the Interior, 08/07/17; Jacques Leslie, “The Trump administration vs. the sage grouse — one more way to undermine the Endangered Species Act,” Los Angeles Times, 08/03/17]
In July 2017, IPAA Director of Government Relations Samantha McDonald emailed Timothy Williams, requesting “one more call” with Williams in his “sage grouse review capacity,” on behalf of Chesapeake, Conoco Phillips, EOG Resources and Western Energy Alliance. The organizations had “a pretty specific sage grouse issue they’d like to have addressed in the final report,” that had to do with a “sage grouse map issue.” The report issued by the Interior Department in August 2017 committed to developing a process to incorporate revised habitat maps. On August 17, McDonald emailed Williams again to see if he had solved the map discrepancy. In one of many examples of Trump’s DOI regularly acting on specific trade group requests, Williams responded that Interior was “working on it” and that he “let the Secretary know as well.”
On July 19, 2017, Tripp Parks, Western Energy Alliance’s Manager of Government Affairs, emailed members of Interior’s sage grouse review team, including Timothy Williams, a letter “regarding the economic impacts of the Greater Sage-Grouse land use plans.” The letter has been described as “an industry wish list,” and the sage grouse review team granted 13 of WEA’s 15 requests.
[OS-2017-001063 (Sage Grouse Comms from Industry), Pages 108 – 112; Jayson O’Neill, “Western Values Project opens investigation in response to leaked document revealing industry influence of Interior’s sage-grouse review,” Western Values Project, 08/21/17]