James W Sanderson

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James Sanderson was a Denver-based lawyer/lobbyist for a range of clients, including Joseph Coors of the Adolph Coors Co. -- the brewing mogul who had largely funded Ronald Reagan's run for the presidency in 1980. He was given special privileges and a paid temporary position as Special Assistant to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Administrator, Anne Gorsuch Burford at the time the EPA was dealing with some of his clients. It was a clear case of conflict of interest -- and the Democrats in Congress used it to attack the systematic way the Reagan Administration was attempting to dismantle the EPA.

Sanderson had been nominated to the EPA's position as Associate Administrator for Policy and Resource Management

Documents & Timeline

1982 June Environmental Health Letters reports that:

EPA is going through a series of top-level management shifts, partly—but not entirely—resulting from the withdrawal of the nomination of Denver lawyer James Sanderson for the post of Assistant Administrator for Policy and Resource Management, the No. 3 post in the agency (behind Administrator Anne M. Gorsuch and Deputy Administrator John Herhandez).

Immediately after withdrawal of the Sanderson nomination, EPA appointed Joseph A. Cannon as Associate Administrator for Policy and Resource Management, where he has been acting since last September. It should be noted that the post of Associate Administrator does not require Senate confirmation; Assistant Administrator, for which Sanderson was to be nominated, does require it.

Sanderson was an attorney representing Chemical Waste Management, the Denver Water Board, and other clients including Chevron Shale Oil, Snowmass and Adolph Coors Co., while simultaneously serving as a paid Special Assistant/advisor to EPA Administrator Anne Gorsuch. The EPA was dealing with the Colorado Water Quality Standards issue at that time, and she must have been aware of his lobbying work.[2] [3]

{The) EPA sought to avoid the Sanderson flap by asking the White House to nominate John E Daniel, now chief of staff at EPA (which does not require Senate confirmation) to the post of Assistant Administrator, for which he presumably would have no trouble being confirmed. Then, according to our sources, Sanderson would be appointed to Daniel's post. The White House is understood to have rejected the plan.

Cannon will be responsible for policy analysis, regulatory reform, the budget, standards, regulations and management systems and evaluation. Cannon, 32, served in two Washington law firms before joining EPA in May 1981 as special assistant to the Administrator,[4]