Washington, D.C. — As President Trump rolls out his long-awaited infrastructure plan, Democracy Forward launched a new Infrastructure Accountability Initiative, a series of actions designed to hold the Trump Administration accountable for an infrastructure plan that is poised to enrich Trump’s cronies at the expense of the American people. As the first action in this new initiative, today Democracy Forward released “Blueprint for Cronyism,” a new report highlighting the illegal development of the Trump Administration’s plan and analyzing how it would lay the groundwork for rampant cronyism moving forward.
“What the American people will see is an infrastructure plan designed in secret by a council endowed with more power than Dick Cheney’s infamous and self-enriching Energy Task Force,” said Corey Ciorciari, Policy and Strategy Director for Democracy Forward and a lead author of the report. “This is a plan for maximum cronyism.”
Released before President Trump’s State of the Union, “Blueprint for Cronyism” explains how Trump’s infrastructure plan “appears to allow the Administration to award new infrastructure grants directly to private companies, empower companies to charge tolls and fees on America’s roads and bridges, cut career officials and agency experts out of project and permitting decisions, and eliminate regulatory and legal safeguards that protect against corruption.”
The Infrastructure Accountability Initiative will also include a series of lawsuits and joint actions with Food & Water Watch. In the coming weeks, the two groups will file new briefs in their suit against the Administration for illegally developing infrastructure policy in violation of federal transparency laws. The initiative will also include additional legal actions targeting communications between cabinet officials and Trump’s inner circle, probing foreign involvement in the President’s infrastructure plans, and uncovering attempts by Jared Kushner to personally profit off the President’s plan.
“Trump’s infrastructure plan will likely turn over urgent infrastructure projects, like public water, to his associates on Wall Street to turn a quick profit. It would also fast track destructive fossil fuel infrastructure, like pipelines, so the industry can expand without regard for the health and safety of communities and the planet,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “We need to shine a light—a big, giant spotlight—on the infrastructure dealings of this administration. It has shown over and over again that it sides with billionaire interests, not the public interest.”
When introducing his “Infrastructure Council” in January, President Trump staffed the group with his business associates and friends, including real estate moguls Richard Lefrak, Steven Roth, and infrastructure venture capitalists William "Bill" Ford and Joshua Harris. The President has relied both upon members of this illegal Infrastructure Council and staff of the Jared Kushner-led White Office of American Innovation.
These advisors operated behind closed doors for months, holding secret meetings, soliciting and reviewing project proposals, and recommending regulatory actions. In fact, President Trump has already taken actions on infrastructure that prioritize the interests of people like his family and business associates over the needs of American communities.
“As Congress and the public consider President Trump’s infrastructure proposal, they should consider the illegal way the proposal was crafted behind closed doors, the self-dealing infrastructure actions President Trump has already taken, and the ways in which the plan is ripe for abuse,” the report states. “Then they should ask a simple but critical question: Who would President Trump’s plan benefit, and who would it hurt?”
The report was issued on Tuesday January 30, 2018 and the full report can be found here.
Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.
Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.
Charisma Troiano, 202-701-1781, [email protected]
Darcey Rakestraw, 202 683-2467, [email protected]