Watchdog Calls for Investigation of BLM Official

Culver’s participation in land orders involving her former employer may have run afoul of ethics commitments

Today, Federal ethics watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust called for the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of the Interior to investigate possible ethics violations by Nada Culver, Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director of Policy and Programs. PPT alleges Culver’s participation in matters involving Public Land Orders (PLOs) may have been in violation of federal ethics laws and/or the Biden Ethics Pledge.

Prior to joining Interior, Culver was Vice President of Public Lands and Senior Policy Counsel at the National Audubon Society, a $500 million national special interest organization. During her tenure, the National Audubon Society petitioned BLM to halt progress on PLOs signed by then-Secretary David Bernhardt. Upon arriving at BLM, Culver quickly advanced the very actions sought by her former employer. Absent a waiver from Department ethics officials, this would appear to violate federal ethics laws as well as the Biden Ethics Pledge, which bars political appointees from participating in particular matters related to their former employers and clients.

“Ms. Culver’s participation in a matter in which her former employer was involved raises serious questions,” Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust, stated. “The American public deserves to be assured political appointees are carrying out their duties in an ethical, impartial manner without favoritism to previous employers or these large special interest groups. If a high-ranking official like Culver can come in and, as one of her first actions, do her former employer’s bidding, it’s hard for the American public to understand exactly what purpose the impartiality regulations or the Biden Ethics Pledge serve.”

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The American public deserves a full investigation to provide information and answers regarding:

  1. Whether or not Ms. Culver sought or received guidance from the Ethics Office as to whether the PLOs were considered matters or particular matters;
  2. If a particular matter, whether or not Ms. Culver sought or received guidance or approval from the Department Ethics Office (DEO) to participate in this matter given the strong potential for actual or perceived conflicts of interest;
  3. What guidance, if any, the DEO provided to Ms. Culver on this matter; and
  4. Whether or not Ms. Culver received a waiver to participate in the PLOs and, if not, whether her participation constitutes a violation of her ethics obligations under either 502(a)(2) or the Biden Administration Ethics Pledge.