Rick Perry’s Energy Industry Connections — in the U.S. and Abroad

Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry came into the administration with enough industry connections and energy investments to provide him with a very long list of recusal obligations. We’ve been investigating just how well he upheld those obligations — and whether outside influences have played a role in department policy.

Before being selected to head the Department of Energy in President Donald Trump’s administration, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry ran for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, where he benefited from millions of dollars in campaign spending by the energy industry. One donor was Dallas billionaire Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, who gave a pro-Perry PAC $6 million. Another longtime Perry backer is Michael Bleyzer, whom Perry recommended in May 2019 for the board of Ukraine’s state-owned natural gas company, Naftogaz. A little more than a month later, Ukraine awarded an oil and gas exploration deal to Bleyzer and his partner.

The energy industry connections went further than that, though. Prior to his confirmation, Perry also resigned from the boards of Sunoco Logistics Partners and donor Kelcy Warren’s Energy Transfer Partners, both developers of the Dakota Access Pipeline. One of Perry’s former top advisers, Jeff Miller, raises money for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and runs a lobbying shop that counts Energy Transfer Partners among its clients. 

As secretary, Perry attended energy and commerce events in Kentucky with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a vocal opponent of stronger energy regulations. And Perry’s energy connections weren’t just professional — his son, Griffin Perry, helps lead oil and gas investment firm Grey Rock Energy Partners, a company that former Sec. Perry was an investor in before joining the administration.

Perry’s business and industry ties weren’t limited to energy, either. In 2016, Perry joined the board of Celltex Therapeutics, a stem cell company through which he had previously undergone “experimental back surgery.” The company was founded by David G. Eller, a Perry donor, and had moved its operations to Mexico in 2013. But a 2017 Texas law could open the door for the company to again provide treatment in the U.S. After resigning from the Celltex board and recusing himself from matters related to the company, Perry’s wife joined the board.

In November 2019, Perry resigned to be replaced by his deputy, Dan Brouillette, who has been involved in many of the administration’s more controversial energy policies. But even with Perry out, American Oversight will continue to investigate the role special or private interests may have played in the administration’s energy policy.

WHAT WE’RE SEEKING

  • Perry’s calendars between January 2017 and late 2018, and communications with his scheduling team;
  • Perry’s ethics waivers and recusal determinations;
  • Communications between senior Energy officials and Robert E. Murray of Murray Energy Corporation, the largest privately owned coal company in the U.S.;
  • Records related to the decision to put an Energy Department photographer on administrative leave after he disclosed photos of Perry meeting with Murray;
  • Perry’s communications with representatives of Celltex Therapeutics, Sunoco Logistics Partners, and Energy Transfer Partners;
  • Perry’s communications with Jeff Miller or Miller’s lobbying firm;
  • Perry’s communications with Kelcy Warren and other donors to his 2016 presidential campaign or affiliated PACs;
  • Perry’s communications with Michael Bleyzer, Natasha Bleyzer, or anyone associated with SigmaBleyzer;
  • Perry’s communications with Griffin Perry or representatives of Grey Rock Energy Partners;
  • Communications between Perry’s office and the office of Sen. Mitch McConnell;
  • Perry’s communications containing climate denial terms, regarding the release of scientific reports on climate change, or with White House climate advisers;
  • Perry’s communications with federal judge Don Willett, whom Perry had appointed to the Texas Supreme Court in 2005; and
  • Perry’s official communications using a non-governmental email address.

Related Documents

May 28, 2020

DOE Calendar Entries for Communications with Assistant Sec. for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg and Trump Donor Bob Murray

Department of Energy
Agency Record
April 1, 2020

DOE Calendars for Senior Officials from January and February 2018

Department of Energy
Agency Record
January 13, 2020

Joint Status Report: American Oversight v. DOE – Perry and Brouillette’s Ukraine Records and Communications

Department of Energy
Litigation
November 18, 2019

DOE Recusal Statement from Secretary Perry

Department of Energy
Agency Record
November 8, 2019

Complaint: American Oversight v. DOE — Perry and Brouillette’s Ukraine Records and Communications

Department of Energy
Litigation
October 21, 2019

FOIA to DOE Seeking Communications with Employees of Murray Energy or FirstEnergy

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
September 20, 2019

NRR from DOE Regarding Communications Between Rick Perry, Energy Transfer Partners, and Sunoco Logistics Partners

Department of Energy
Agency Reply
September 5, 2019

DOE Records Regarding Rick Perry’s Travel Expenses During 2017

Department of Energy
Agency Record
August 20, 2019

FOIA to DOE for Communications with Celltex Therapeutics

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
August 20, 2019

FOIA to DOE for Communications with Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
August 20, 2019

FOIA to DOE for Communications with Jeff Miller

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
August 20, 2019

FOIA to DOE for Ethics Waivers Granted to Secretary Perry

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
August 9, 2019

FOIA to DOE Asking for Perry Communications with Campaign Donors

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
August 9, 2019

FOIA to DOE Seeking Communications Between Secretary Perry and Michael Bleyzer

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
June 11, 2019

FOIA to DOE Seeking Communications between Sec. Perry and Sen. McConnell

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
February 22, 2019

FOIA to DOE Seeking Communications Between Rick Perry and Don Willett

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
December 28, 2018

DOE Calendars for Deputy Secretary Brouillette from September to December 2017

Agency Record
December 17, 2018

No Records Response from DOE Regarding Industry Communications about FERC Rule

Department of Energy
Agency Reply
November 29, 2018

FOIA to DOE Seeking Secretary Perry’s Personal Email Communications

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
October 17, 2018

FOIA to DOE Seeking Updated Calendars for Senior Staff Officials

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
October 4, 2018

FOIA to DOE Regarding Secretary Rick Perry’s Son’s Business Interests

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
August 20, 2018

Energy Secretary Rick Perry Calendars for February to December 2017

Department of Energy
Agency Record
June 14, 2018

FOIA to DOE Seeking Scheduler Communications with Outside Entities

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
January 31, 2018

FOIA to DOE Regarding Photographer Placed On Administrative Leave

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
January 31, 2018

FOIA to DOE Seeking Photos

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
January 31, 2018

FOIA Seeking Communications with Murray Energy Corporation

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
January 31, 2018

FOIA Seeking Information Related to Murray Energy

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
November 1, 2017

FOIA to DOE for Calendars of Senior Officials

Department of Energy
FOIA Request