Icahn Resigns As Trump Special Advisor For Regulation

Aug 21 2017 | 4:30pm ET

Famed activist investor Carl Icahn has stepped down from his role as an informal regulatory policy advisor to President Donald Trump ahead of a New Yorker article Monday focused on whether his ownership of heavily regulated companies, such as oil refiner CVR Energy, presented a conflict of interest.

The article, entitled “Icahn’s Failed Raid On Washington,” raises questions about Icahn’s advocacy for relaxing government regulations that, in Trump’s view, are “strangling” American companies. 

In an open letter to Trump posted on his personal website August 18, Icahn said he “chose to end this arrangement (with your blessing) because I did not want partisan bickering about my role to in any way cloud your administration.” 

Icahn preemptively deflected criticism of his role in the letter, adding, “I never had a formal position with your administration nor a policymaking role. And contrary to the insinuations of a handful of your Democratic critics, I never had access to nonpublic information or profited from my position, nor do I believe that my role presented conflicts of interest.”

However, the letter does acknowledge Icahn’s particular focus on the refining industry – precisely where various financial media outlets, including Bloomberg, Reuters and CNBC, have raised concerns since he was first named to the post last December. “Indeed, out of an abundance of caution, the only issues I ever discussed with you were broad matters of policy affecting the refining industry,” Icahn continued.  

Icahn’s appointment to the informal position, which did not require confirmation, while he held a controlling interest in CVR may have represented a conflict of interest and was potentially subject to U.S. code covering Presidential advisors with financial interests, according to a CNBC article citing former White House ethics attorneys. When CNBC first investigated this concern prior to Trump’s inauguration, Icahn Enterprises general counsel Jesse Lynn reassured the network that "Mr. Icahn is well aware of his obligations under the law generally and with respect to 18 U.S.C. 208 specifically.”

Icahn, one of Wall Street’s original activist investors and a billionaire many times over, founded Icahn Enterprises in 1987 and controls a number of other alternative investment vehicles, including Icahn Associates and Icahn Capital LP.

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