Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, failed to disclose his ownership of oil interests on over 600 acres of land in his home state, including on land adjacent to a federal wildlife refuge.
The Washington Post reported Monday night that Sessions failed to tell the Office of Government Ethics, which vets Cabinet picks, about his oil holdings, which earn around $4,700 annually. Sessions’ lawyer told the Post that the senator did report that revenue to the OGE as rent or royalties.
But ethics experts told the Post that it was troubling that Sessions failed to specify that revenue was generated from mineral and oil rights, some of which lie beneath a wildlife refuge.
“The fact that his oil is in a federal wildlife refuge means he should not be involved in DOJ policies concerning drilling or environmental issues,” said Trevor Potter, former commissioner and chair of the Federal Election Commission. “Clearly he should have disclosed the asset.”
The Post noted that, should be confirmed as Trump’s attorney general, Sessions would lead the Justice Department’s environment and natural resources division, which houses 400 lawyers.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the Senate Judiciary Committee’s ranking Democrat, told the Post: “If Senator Sessions failed to disclose all of his financial information this is a serious matter.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), another member of the committee, told the Post he that “this is particularly troubling because this ownership interest involves oil and gas holdings connected to a federal wildlife refuge.”
Sessions previously was criticized for omitting a very public failed 1986 bid for a federal judgeship as well as multiple appearances on Breitbart News’ website and radio show from a Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire.
Various lawyers who worked on civil rights cases which Sessions counted on that questionnaire as among the most significant in his career also told the Post he actually played very little, if any, role in them.