James G. Watt, Inside Secretary Beneath Reagan, Dies at 85


When former Gov. Walter J. Hickel of Alaska grew to become President Richard M. Nixon’s Inside secretary, Mr. Watt was named a deputy with oversight for water and energy assets. In 1975, President Gerald R. Ford named him to the Federal Energy Fee. He became a proponent of the “Sagebrush Rebellion,” a Western motion that sought regional control of public resources.

In 1977, Mr. Watt grew to become president and chief counsel of the Mountain States Authorized Basis, created by the Colorado brewer Joseph Coors to guard property rights. He filed many lawsuits to problem Inside Division environmental insurance policies.

He and Reagan knew his nomination for Inside secretary would provoke opposition due to his anti-environment, pro-development actions. However he was simply confirmed by the Senate after insisting that managed growth of assets would strengthen the nation in an power emergency.

After leaving the federal government, Mr. Watt was a lobbyist for builders looking for contracts from the Division of Housing and City Improvement from 1984 to 1986. In 1995, he was charged with 25 counts of perjury and obstructing justice by a federal grand jury investigating fraud and influence-peddling throughout his lobbying at HUD. However the prosecution’s case deteriorated, the felony expenses had been dropped and he pleaded responsible to a single misdemeanor and was sentenced to a $5,000 advantageous and 500 hours of group service.

Mr. Watt, who had a house in Jackson Gap, Wyo., and in recent times lived in Wickenburg, Ariz., co-wrote “The Braveness of a Conservative” (1985, with Doug Weed), about conservative political agendas.

In 2001, when the administration of George W. Bush proposed drilling for oil on public lands in an effort to deal with the nation’s power issues, Mr. Watt hailed the method being superior by Vice President Dick Cheney. “All the things Cheney’s saying, every thing the president is saying, is precisely what we had been saying 20 years in the past,” he advised The Denver Submit. “Twenty years later, it feels like they’ve simply dusted off the outdated work.”

Eduardo Medina contributed reporting.


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