Knox Williams called the State Department decision a “big victory” for his group but said the association had had no inside advantage in seeking it — though he acknowledged that his brother had played a role. “We work the issues that we work just the same as any other organization does,” he said.
Government watchdog groups, however, said the case raised concerns about special interests gaining remarkable access in the Trump White House.
“When Michael Williams exits through the revolving door to return to the gun industry, I’m sure he will be greeted with open arms,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, a government ethics advocacy group that has filed records requests for Mr. Williams’s communications with the gun lobby from the White House budget office.
Records obtained by Mr. Evers’s group show that in early 2018, about a year after his arrival at the White House, Mr. Williams was invited by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to three meetings that another invitee described as being about countering gun control measures after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla.
Mr. Keane, the shooting sports foundation’s general counsel, said Mr. Williams did not attend the meetings and had been invited in error. Nevertheless, he said his group communicated with Mr. Williams about the State Department’s silencer policy, and other Second Amendment-related issues. He said Mr. Williams took on what Mr. Keane called the “hook and bullet” portfolio — fishing and hunting issues — at the White House.
A Georgia native and Eagle Scout, Mr. Williams worked as a law clerk for the National Rifle Association before graduating from George Washington University Law School in 2014. Soon after, he went to work at the American Suppressor Assoc