Thursday, November 16, 2017

Ag-deregulation appointee scrutinized for meeting with pesticide lobbyists; she used to be one

Adock during Tuesday's testimony
(NYT photo by Zach Gibson)
Rebeckah Adcock, a former pesticide lobbyist appointed to the Agriculture Department by President Trump, is under scrutiny after an investigation by The New York Times and ProPublica revealed that she met with former industry allies even after signing an ethics agreement limiting such meetings. She leads the deregulation team at the USDA, and is one of dozens of Trump appointees with deep ties to the industries they're meant to deregulate.

"Adcock took part in a meeting in May that included a lobbyist for her former employer, the industry trade group CropLife America, according to visitor logs at the Department of Agriculture. Participants in the meeting said that Adcock had discussed the effect of pesticides on water, a topic she previously lobbied on and was supposed to refrain from working on inside government," Robert Faturechi of ProPublica and Danielle Ivory of the Times report.

A USDA spokesperson said the meeting didn't violate the ethics agreement, and denied that Adcock had discussed topics forbidden by the agreement.

Adcock's tenure at the USDA has been marked by secrecy. In September she refused to release the names of the members of her deregulation team to congressional aides. USDA didn't release the names until Nov. 14, right before Adcock testified before two subcommittees of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform; even then, the list was initially only shared with Republicans on the committee. When subcommittee Democrats asked for the list, Adcock said the names had already been sent over, possibly days beforehand.

Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, a Democrat on the committee, wrote Adcock Nov. 14, demanding that she release all emails with lobbyists or anyone else in the pesticide industry. Watson Coleman also wanted documents and more information to see if Adcock had misled the committee about release of the list of her deregulation team members.

"According to a Democratic aide, Adcock will be compelled to answer because these requests will be included in the committee’s 'questions for the record,' which are generally sent after a hearing to gather more information from a witness," Faturechi and Ivory report.

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