This past Friday saw the end of Carl Icahn’s tenure as a special advisor to Donald Trump on issues pertaining to regulatory reform, with his resignation announced via a published letter on his website. His appointment as a special advisor had left many contemplating whether this role represented a conflict of interests. This was especially relevant after nine U.S senators filed for an insider trading investigation in May into Icahn’s 2016 bet against RIN prices that led to a significant personal gain, allegedly on the back of policy and personnel advisory to Trump.
In his letter detailing his resignation, Icahn touches on the alleged conflict of interest by claiming that there was none considering, in his own words, he “never had access to any nonpublic information or profited from his position”. This statement is particularly newsworthy given Icahn’s questions to EPA head Pruitt in his interview process about the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and previous conversations with Trump about proposed changes to the ethanol rule.
The adoption of those proposals would have seen CVR Energy, of which an 82% share is held by Icahn, save roughly $205.9 million annually. Icahn also refuted queries on whether his advisory role and responsibilities intersected with the duties of recently designated Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Neomi Rao, stating that “the answer to that question is an unequivocal no, for the simple reason that I had no duties whatsoever.” Instead, Icahn relates his resignation to an attempt to avoid souring the Trump administration as a result of the “partisan bickering” that has clouded his stint in the advisory role. While the letter failed to increase the transparency of the exact role Icahn played within Trump’s administration, many within the Renewable Fuels industry are pleased to see the conclusion of this particular narrative.