Newly confirmed Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is under investigation for potential conflict of interest allegations the Deputy Inspector General, Mary Kendall said in a letter on Monday.
According to Kendall’s letter the Inspector General’s Office for the Interior received seven complaints, including from Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), Chairwoman for the Subcommittee for the Interior, and ranking Senate member for the Subcommittee for the Interior, Tom Udall (D-NM), that prompted the investigation into “various potential conflicts of interest and other violations.”
The two lawmakers requested the IG open the investigation in March, saying at the time in a joint statement, “We write to request that your office investigate reports of ethics irregularities by senior officials at the Department of the Interior and review whether ethics policies and procedures that cover senior officials at the Department are sufficient to ensure compliance with the letter and spirit of Federal ethics requirements, particularly those that prevent conflicts of interest.”
In a statement Monday Udall said, “The Inspector General’s investigation into Secretary Bernhardt’s extensive conflicts of interest is a necessary step to ensure that the public interest is paramount in decision-making at the Interior Department.”
The New York Times reported on Monday that “among the chief complaints, are allegations, that Bernhardt while Deputy Interior Secretary, “used his position to advance policy pushed by his former lobbying client,” that “he continued working as a lobbyist,” even after he filed paperwork that declared he was no longer working as a lobbyist, and that he blocked, “the release of a scientific report showing the harmful effects of a chemical pesticide on certain endangered species.”
Bernhardt was confirmed The New York Times reported on April 11th, by a Senate vote of 56-41, who was Acting Interior Secretary stepping in when Ryan Zinke resigned amid his own allegations of ethical misconduct.
For What It’s Worth
CNN reported that during the government shutdown the Interior Dept. approved oil, gas permits., while other projection were placed on hold.