When does it matter what sort of money is behind an argument? If a person is vested in a policy outcome but makes a reasonable argument, we can debate how relevant their financial stake and their paying clientele is.
But once a person argues from authority, and when her position and her job are held up to demonstrate her authority, then her financial interests are very, very relevant.
This seems reasonable, but for some reason, this rule doesn't seem to apply to lobbyists and consultants pushing for environmental regulations and subsidies that will profit them or their clients.
Christie Todd Whitman is a revolving-door consultant who stands to enrich herself and often her clients when the federal government more aggressively regulates industry in the name of the environment. The former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency had a New York Times op-ed that leaned entirely on her resume.
Up at the top of the op-ed chastising Trump's management of the EPA, Whitman establishes her authority: "As a Republican appointed by President George W. Bush to run the agency, I can hardly be written off as part of the liberal resistance to the new administration."
But can she be written off as a regulatory robber baron, profiting off of more regulations?
For starters, Christie Todd Whitman is co-chair of a nuclear-industry lobby group called "CASEnergy." Nuclear companies would profit from regulation of greenhouse gases. This doesn't disqualify Whitman's argument, and it doesn't actually argue against the regulation of GHGs. It does indicate that maybe Whitman should have disclosed this.
Whitman also runs Whitman Strategy Group, with offices in Princeton and on K Street. Whitman Strategy Group helps corporations "navigate through the maze of ever-changing laws and regulations, governmental red tape and business bureaucracies." It's no longer registered as a lobbying firm, but when it was, its clients included solar energy companies.
Does this portfolio disqualify Whitman's arguments for stricter regulation? Not at all. But it certainly demolishes the authority on which she bases her argument.
Timothy P. Carney, the Washington Examiner's commentary editor, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears Tuesday nights on washingtonexaminer.com.