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A secretive private equity mogul advising the Biden White House on climate is out following an Insider investigation

  • Centerbridge Partners founder Mark Gallogly, who has been advising the Biden administration on climate issues since March, has left his position.
  • Ethics experts and environmental activists had opposed Gallogly’s hire, questioning the secrecy surrounding his work and his investments in climate-related businesses.
  • An Insider investigation last month found that as an investor, Gallogly has been playing both sides of the climate crisis.

A senior State Department climate advisor is leaving his post following an Insider investigation into his finances.

Private equity mogul Mark Gallogly has stepped down from his position as a senior advisor to President Biden’s  Special Climate Envoy John Kerry after facing fierce criticism from climate activists and ethics watchdogs over his history of profiting from petroleum-intensive businesses and the use of a loophole in ethics rules that allowed him to keep his investments secret.

An Insider investigation into Gallogly’s finances published last month found that he has ongoing investments in his former firm, Centerbridge Partners, which has a history of investing in oil and mining interests, even as he seeks to profit from “making investments in decarbonizing the world economy” with a new family investment office.

The State Department confirmed Gallogly’s departure, which was first reported by Axios.

The State Department declined to answer questions about whether Gallogly’s departure was planned, what prompted it, whether his financial holdings had raised concerns around conflicts of interest, or about the terms on which the former mogul was separating from the agency.

In a prepared statement, Kerry praised Gallogly’s service:

Government has an essential role to play in addressing the climate crisis, but given the magnitude of what we’re facing, we need the private sector to lead, too. When I was appointed to this role, Mark was among the first people I called on to join the effort.

In recent months, he’s brought his considerable private sector experience, financial acumen, and climate activism to bear in facilitating productive conversations with the financial institutions and companies that will be key to implementing the ambitious climate solutions we need – and he’s done so with characteristic humility and grace.

I’m grateful he answered the call to serve and help get this important work underway. I wish him all the best, and I know he’ll remain a staunch ally in the climate fight.

Gallogly apparently joined the Biden climate team in March, after donating generously to the president’s campaign. 

He retired in December from Centerbridge Partners, the $28 billion private equity firm he co-founded. His hire was not announced by the administration, and for months officials refused to confirm his position for the record. Kerry’s remarks on his departure are the first on-the-record comment by any government official regarding Gallogly’s government employment.

The unusual secrecy around his work — and the unusual nature of the position, which allowed Gallogly to handle sensitive policy matters without reporting his extensive financial holdings to ethics officials — raised concerns from climate activists and good government experts alike.

Last month, Insider detailed Gallogly’s extensive financial support of Democratic campaigns, including $5 million in donations in the 2020 cycle to Biden, Democratic Congressional campaigns, and associated entities. It also noted Gallogly’s ongoing investments in Centerbridge Partners and two of its funds. In the past, Centerbridge Partners has invested in businesses profiting from oilfield services and petroleum exploration to container shipping, parking and aircraft leasing. His family office, Three Cairns Group, seeks to profit from businesses that combat the climate crisis.

“Good Lord. How does this guy not have a conflict of interest?” Walter Shaub, a senior ethics fellow with the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight who frequently tangled with the Trump administration on ethics issues, told Insider. “You can’t hire a hedge-fund guy and make no efforts to identify what conflicts he brings to the table.”

Gallogly’s work at the State Department allegedly involved lining up voluntary commitments from major financial institutions to make “sustainable” investments. 

“It’s certainly worth asking why folks who were directly involved in the corporations and financial firms most responsible [for climate change] are the right people to lead the US government’s response to the crisis,” Moira Birss, a climate and finance expert with Amazon Watch, told Insider.

Gallogly did not respond to a request for comment.

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