Burning Man Hires Former Trump Campaigner to Help Fight U.S. Government Searches

Several weeks ago, the U.S. government recommended harsh measures against Burning Man 2019.  That included searching attendees for drugs and weapons.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management had issued an environmental impact statement about the event.  This statement included the enactment of a forced attendance cap.  In addition, festival organizers would have to hire a private security company to hold the event.

Officers would promptly screen all attendees, with the right to search anyone.

With over 700,000 expected to attend Burning Man in Nevada this year, the screening effort would include searching all attendees, their vehicles, every vendor and contractor at the event, and an extensive search on all staff and volunteers.  The festival would also cap the annual attendance to 80,000 for the next ten years.

Burning Man organizers didn’t exactly take the news well.

Decrying the statement, they said attendees would be subject to “searches without probable cause.”  Since then, organizers have been in damage control.  On social media, they’ve reassured fans that no such screenings will take place.

Explaining the screenings, the Bureau of Land Management shared an interesting analogy.  Just as people receive screenings at an airport, only a few receive full-on searches.  So, only a few people attending the event would be searched, according to the logic.

Yet, determined to fully take on the American government, organizers have made a key hire.

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Before the government’s recommendations, the Burning Man Project had quietly hired well-known law and lobbying firm, Holland & Knight.

To receive approval for the event – sans screenings, which may include metal detectors – Rich Gold will lead the lobbying effort in Washington, D.C.  He leads the law firm’s public policy and regulation group.  In addition, Scott Mason – the man behind Trump’s campaign and his transition – will aid Burning Man’s efforts.

Holland & Knight’s legal team also includes other influential powerhouses.  Paul Bock previously served as counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Kathryn Lehman has served as the Chief of Staff of the House Republican Conference.  Finally, Dimitrios Karakitsos served as the senior counsel on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

With the hire, Burning Man hopes to get a permit from the Bureau of Land Management — on their terms.  This year’s event will take place in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada between August 25th and September 2nd.


Featured image by Gage Skidmore (CC by 2.0).