James G. Watt

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James G. Watt

James Gaius Watt (born January 31, 1938 in Lusk , Wyoming ) is a former American politician ( Republican Party ). He served as Secretary of the Interior from 1981 to 1983 in the cabinet of President Ronald Reagan .


Watt attended the University of Wyoming , where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1960 and a law degree in 1962. He took his first position in politics as an employee of the Republican US Senator Milward L. Simpson from Wyoming, whom he met through his son Alan . In 1966, Watt became secretary of the Natural Resources Committee and Pollution Advisory Board of the US Chamber of Commerce . In 1969, when Richard Nixon took over the government , he became Deputy Secretary of State for Water and Energy in the US Department of the Interior. In 1975 he became deputy chairman of the Federal Power Commission .

In 1976, he founded the Mountain States Legal Foundation , an advocacy group that offers pro bono legal advice to defend individual freedoms, particularly with regard to economic and property rights . However, environmental organizations have criticized it as a “training ground for a number of attorneys most active in the anti-environmental movement”. Several attorneys who worked for Watts at MSLF later became federal government officials, including Ann Veneman and Gale Norton .

His tenure in the Home Office (January 23, 1981 to November 8, 1983) was controversial, largely due to his alleged opposition to environmental policy and support for the use of federally owned land by logging , ranching , and other commercial interests. His “born again” Christianity was also heavily criticized by some; As when he in 1983 the Beach Boys a performance ban for her appearance on National Day on the National Mall pronounced because rock concerts "undesirable elements" would cause drag.

In September 1983 Watt made fun of equal opportunity measures in a speech to the Chamber of Commerce in which he made the following comment through a coal concession committee: "I have a black man, a woman, two Jews and a cripple. And we have competence too." Watt had to resign within weeks.

In 1995 he was charged with 25 offenses, including obstruction of justice and perjury. He pleaded guilty on one point and was sentenced to five years probation, a $ 5,000 fine and 500 community hours.

In 2008, Time Magazine named Watt one of the ten worst ministers of modern times.

Watt is a supporter of the Pentecostal movement .


  • Ron Wolf: God, James Watt, and the Public Land . Audubon, 1981, 83 (3): 65

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Mountain States Legal Foundation
  2. ExxonSecrets Factsheet: Mountain States Legal Foundation
  3. 556. James G Watt, US Secretary of the Interior. Simpson's Contemporary Quotations. 1988 ( Memento of the original from September 20, 2000 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.bartleby.com
  4. David Johnston: Ex-Interior Chief Is Indicted In Influence-Peddling Case. In: The New York Times. February 23, 1995, accessed December 26, 2014 .
  5. US Briefs - Former interior secretary sentenced to probation. In: CNN Interactive. Cable News Network, Inc., March 12, 1996, archived from the original on October 29, 2004 ; accessed on December 26, 2014 (English).
  6. https://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1858691_1858690_1858648,00.html