Downgrading OIRA

The acting regulatory “czar” is the least experienced in history.

Overlooked amidst all the other news, the White House picked a new acting regulatory czar earlier this month. The acting Director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is Paul Ray, who is very junior and a virtual unknown.  It’s difficult to imagine that he’s going to be very effective at telling cabinet officials or other agency heads that they need to fix their proposed regulatory actions.  That’s a tough thing to do anyway, especially for a person with a temporary position. But I guess that’s the idea: his job is just to carry out Mick Mulvaney’s orders and rubber-stamp every regulatory rollback to come across his desk.

Paul Ray is something of a cipher. It’s hard to find any information about him online because he just hasn’t done much of anything to warrant attention.  Ray is clearly a talented young lawyer, and he’s got the resume that might make him a candidate for an entry-level job in law teaching, if he published a few good papers.  He quite likely would have made partner in another five or six years if he had stayed at his law firm, assuming his supervising attorney’s current praise reflects his actual views.  Here’s what we know about him based on his LinkedIn page, which still lists him as a law firm associate:  He was an English major at Hillsdale College and graduated from Harvard Law School in 2011.  Then he clerked on the Second Circuit and for Justice Sam Alito.  Following that he went to Sidley & Austin in 2014.  The clients he worked for included American Chemistry Council, American Forest and Paper Association, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Portland Cement Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, although he was probably too junior to have much direct contact with higher-ups. Then he spent some time working for Secretary of Labor Acosta before moving to OIRA last July. Being Acting Director should be a nice resume builder for him.

Regardless of how talented Ray may be, you don’t pick someone that junior and inexperienced for a government job that you consider really important.  It’s like picking a really talented 1st Lieutenant as acting head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Imagine nominating Ray as Attorney General, a job for which he is probably more qualified than OIRA head).  And given the extra job insecurity that comes with being acting director, it’s unlikely that someone with that thin a resume will make waves by actually having any opinions of his own.    Rather, the appointment seems to be a sign that OIRA just isn’t taken very seriously by this Administration.

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Reader Comments

5 Replies to “Downgrading OIRA”

  1. Dan, will you academics ever learn, as long as academics refuse to join together and the power of money continues to compromise your dedication to protecting the human race, the paramount lesson of the Jan/Feb Sierra club magazine warning shall be our epitaph:

    “In the (at least) 30 years since scientists began warning about climate change, the environmental movement, global civil society, and some (though not enough) political leaders have been focused on addressing the root of the problem: greenhouse gas emissions. But those efforts have been inadequate, and temperatures continue to rise. The terrible fate we sought to avoid is upon us: Even if humans stopped all emissions today, Earth would keep warming for generations. Which means that even as we stay focused on transitioning away from fossil fuels, halting deforestation, and reforming our agriculture systems, we must also begin preparing for life on a planet transformed.—
    Humans occupy a position of power unprecedented in the life of the planet, yet we know that the status quo is untenable. While intelligence may be indispensable to navigating this era, it’s also insufficient. Yes, we’ll need all the smarts we can muster.”
    https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2019-1-january-february

    1. Will and Ariel Durant, two of the most famous historians in the 20th century, after 40 years of research concluded:

      “When a civilization declines, it is through no mystic limitation of a corporate life, but through the failure of its political or intellectual leaders to meet the challenges of change.”

      Dan, it is becoming most tragic that you and your colleagues are proving this fact pf life to be true one last time.

      And, as Ike also concluded in his 1961 Farewell Address:

      “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.”

      1. Attacks against global warming threats by politicians in Washington today prove that intellectuals are failing to meet the challenges of change again, producing the greatest threats against the human race in the history of our civilization. The power of money is causing the failures of all social, political and economic institutions to protect the human race one last time, as time runs out forever.

  2. Dear Mr. Garber.

    With all due respect to your impressive list of accomplishments in the world of academia, your blog is quite unprofessional. You have made a number of assumptions based purely on your own uninformed opinion and speculation. Let me ask you one question. Have you personally interviewed Mr. Ray or anyone for whom he has worked? In his public release of his financials, the list of clients he represented at Sidley Austin is composed of many reputable companies. And, I might add, the research and hours of studying these particular cases helped to prepare Mr. Ray for his current position.

    You, unfortunately, but to my great satisfaction, are, quite immediately, going to find it necessary to retract your entire blog about my son, Paul Joseph Ray. He might be an unknown to you, but just you wait a few weeks. You will have to take a number and wait in a long line to shake his hand.

    And, please, Mr. Farber…do your homework before you write another blog, will you?

    Sincerely,
    DeLora Ray
    Chattanooga, TN

    1. Dear Ms. Ray,

      As a parent, I can easily understand your desire to leap to the defense of your son. I’d be very happy to talk with him if he’s interested. If you reread the post, I think you’ll find that it says only that he has far less public stature or experience than his predecessors. That doesn’t mean he isn’t talented. But you can’t be surprised that people who don’t know him as well as you do are taken aback at his appointment to such a senior government position.

      Dan Farber

      https://legal-planet.org/2019/03/25/downgrading-oira/?replytocom=32807#respond

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Dan Farber

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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