AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Case Study

Food & Water Watch v. Trump

Challenging President Trump’s Financially-Conflicted Infrastructure Council 


Democracy Forward filed suit on behalf of Food & Water Watch to challenge actions taken by the Trump Administration’s “Infrastructure Council,” which is led by two of President Trump’s New York business associates, Steven Roth and Richard LeFrak, who stand to benefit from infrastructure policies.

The Infrastructure Council is tasked with developing and executing President Trump’s infrastructure policy, but has operated behind closed doors since it was established in January 2017. As a result, communities, workers, and advocacy organizations have been shut out of the process and infrastructure policy-making has been outsourced to a select group of financially-conflicted private individuals who have business ties to the President.

Our client filed suit against President Trump, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Commerce, alleging the Council has operated in violation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, a federal transparency law.

In the wake of the President’s controversial response to white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, the White House announced it was shutting down the Infrastructure Council, but not before Council members provided the Administration with a stream of policy proposals that could enrich large urban real estate developers, including Roth, Trump and LeFrak, without taking any concrete action to actually invest in the country’s roads and bridges.

Following new reports of private meetings and policy recommendations, we filed an amended complaint to open the Council’s activities up to public scrutiny and invalidate actions it has taken behind closed doors.

All communities – whether small towns or large cities – deserve a say in federal infrastructure policy – and they deserve to know if the President’s friends are profiting from it.


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