Unanswered Ethical Questions Continue to Swirl Around Top Interior Counsel: Watchdog

Congressional Committee Members Cite Potential Conflicts with Former Employer As They Await Public Ethics Memo Klein Promised to Deliver

Today, Federal watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust noted ethical concerns raised by members of the House Committee on Natural Resources regarding the Department of the Interior’s Senior Counselor to the Secretary Elizabeth Klein and repeated its calls for the Department to release public records addressing these concerns. Prior to joining the Department, Ms. Klein served at the Bloomberg-funded State Energy & Environmental Impact Center, which provided representation to state attorneys general offices on numerous multi-state lawsuits and challenges to DOI actions.

More than a week ago Klein promised to deliver her official ethics memo to Congress but the normally public document remains withheld from the public. Many questions remain unanswered regarding Ms. Klein’s potential conflicts of interest and the manner in which the DOI is dealing with them. Protect the Public’s Trust joined other watchdogs in requesting answers to these questions prior to her testimony before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife last week.

“The Biden Administration promised the American public ‘the most ethically vigorous administration in history,’” Director of Protect the Public’s Trust Michael Chamberlain said. “The American public should be able to trust that the conduct of high-level officials will be consistent with that promise. In light of the Biden Ethics Pledge’s ‘Revolving Door Ban’ it is difficult to reconcile Ms. Klein’s involvement with any of the more than 130 matters or the one-third of U.S. states the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center involved itself with during her tenure. The absence of a publicly available ethics waiver for Ms. Klein as well as the Department’s unwillingness to provide her recusal documents raise serious red flags.”

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