The E Foundation worked with UK thinktank on Brexit and is alleged to favour weakening EU food regulations
EXCERPT: The recordings showed the [US agribiz] lobbyists working with agriculture and energy businesses and a rightwing thinktank, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), to promote a free trade deal of the kind they wanted.
US agribusiness lobbyists paid for trip by David Davis
Rob Evans, Felicity Lawrence and David Pegg
The Guardian, 21 Dec 2018
[links to sources at the URL above]
* The E Foundation worked with UK thinktank on Brexit and is alleged to favour weakening EU food regulations
A six-day trip to the US by former Brexit secretary David Davis was partly funded by an American lobbying organisation that is alleged to favour weakening European Union regulations on environmental and food standards.
The Oklahoma-based organisation, the E Foundation, paid £5,362 to Davis, who was accompanied by fellow Brexiter Owen Paterson on the trip last month. The organisation represents agricultural and energy interests.
The E Foundation attracted attention this year when undercover reporters from Greenpeace’s investigative unit, Unearthed, recorded its director saying that he aimed to raise thousands of dollars from US donors to campaign on Brexit.
The recordings showed the lobbyists working with agriculture and energy businesses and a rightwing thinktank, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), to promote a free trade deal of the kind they wanted.
Details of the trip have been declared by Davis in parliament’s register of financial interests, which was published on Thursday.
Davis, who resigned as Brexit secretary in July, had declined to comment on the trip when approached by the Guardian last week. A spokesman had said, “All of the expenses Mr Davis incurred during the trip have been declared according to parliamentary rules.”
In his declaration, Davis said six organisations and individuals had paid for the trip to Washington and Oklahoma, which cost a total of £11,464 in flights, accommodation and hospitality.
Of this, £1,949 was paid by the IEA. Davis was also accompanied by Shanker Singham, who works for the IEA as an adviser. Brexit supporters have relied on Singham to underpin the economic arguments for leaving the EU.
The recordings obtained by the Greenpeace investigative unit showed Michael Carnuccio, the director of the E Foundation, saying that his organisation was planning to raise between $250,000 and $400,000 (£198,000-£316,000) to campaign on Brexit. According to the recordings, he said the donations would be poured into the IEA.
The investigative unit said that those who had pledged money included US agribusiness interests who hoped to profit from a post-Brexit trade deal that scraps EU restrictions on US products, such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-reared beef.
Oklahoma is one of the biggest beef-producing areas in the US. The undercover recordings showed how Carnuccio and another businessman, Tucker Link, had visited Britain in May and had meetings with politicians and Whitehall officials.
When the recordings were published in July, the IEA denied that it had been offering potential US donors access to government ministers and civil servants.
The IEA added it did not recognise the sums of money being suggested by the E Foundation, and had not received any cash from US businesses in relation to its work on trade and Brexit. It said it was not a lobbyist.
The E Foundation said in July, “The informal conversation enlightened us on possible mutually beneficial endeavours in the future between United Kingdom and Oklahoma.”
Last month, Davis, Paterson and Singham visited Oklahoma, where they were photographed with Todd Lamb, the lieutenant governor of the state, who is on the advisory council of the E Foundation.
Paterson tweeted at the time, “Really positive discussions on the future of UK/Oklahoma trade relationship. Sadly impossible to implement with the draft withdrawal agreement as UK will not control its own tariffs or regulatory environment.”
Link also helped the trio to visit Oklahoma State University. The E Foundation did not respond last week after it had been approached by the Guardian about the trip.
The IEA has been approached for comment. The Chickasaw Nation, which represents Native Americans in Oklahoma, also contributed £4,247 to Davis’s trip.