Haaland’s New BLM Director Faces IG Complaint on Day One

Alleges Tracy Stone-Manning lied to Congress about participation in eco-terrorism plot

Today, federal watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust submitted a complaint to the Inspector General (IG) of the US Department of the Interior alleging the Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Tracy Stone-Manning violated the False Statements Act during her testimony to Congress. This is the second PPT complaint filed with the IG regarding behavior of high-level BLM officials. PPT’s first complaint prompted an investigation by the IG into potential misconduct by Nada Culver, at the time the head of the bureau and now the number two official at BLM after Ms. Stone-Manning’s recent Senate confirmation.

Protect the Public’s Trust filed a complaint with the US Attorney for the District of Columbia on June 22, 2021, raising concerns that Ms. Stone-Manning violated the False Statements Act in her testimony to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. When asked if she had “ever been investigated, arrested, or charged” for a violation of the law, Ms. Stone-Manning asserted, “I have never been arrested or charged and to my knowledge I have never been the target of such an investigation.” As PPT pointed out in our complaint, her very narrow response to a broad question, “appears designed to willfully and knowingly misrepresent and/or conceal her involvement” in an eco-terrorism conspiracy. The facts publicly available at the time indicated that she had, in fact, been investigated and required to provide fingerprints, palm prints and handwriting samples to a grand jury.

Evidence that has come to light since the complaint has only served to bolster our allegations. Statements by Ms. Stone-Manning’s co-conspirator, the Assistant US Attorney who prosecuted the case, the lead federal investigator in the case and Ms. Stone-Manning herself in media interviews, support the contention that she had been untruthful in her testimony and had been investigated. Further, much of this evidence indicates that she was a target of the investigation, even receiving a “target letter” from a grand jury, contrary to her response to the Senators.

In addition to requesting the IG investigate Ms. Stone-Manning’s actions, PPT also asked that investigators look into actions by other employees at the Department of the Interior who may have assisted in misrepresenting facts to Congress. PPT requests that the IG investigate questions regarding whether any Interior employee participated in preparing, drafting, reviewing or approving any responses that misrepresented the events regarding the investigation into the eco-terrorism incident.

“The American public expects that high-ranking public servants will act with the highest levels of honesty and integrity,” declared Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust. “Certainly, someone in the position to lead an agency with 10,000 employees and a portfolio including a large portion of U.S. land, should exemplify these traits. Sadly, Ms. Stone-Manning’s responses to the legitimate inquiries of the public’s elected representatives don’t appear to be anywhere close to this standard. Even more disappointing is that, despite the Biden Administration’s pronouncements of being the most ethical in history, Ms. Stone-Manning’s ethical challenges do not appear unique in Secretary Haaland’s Department of the Interior.”

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