Watchdog Spotlights Ethics Woes at DOI as Senior Nominee’s Committee Vote Once Again Delayed

Senator Murkowski confronted Laura Daniel-Davis at hearing over “inappropriate” behavior by political appointees

In the wake of news reports indicating the vote on a Department of the Interior (DOI) nominee was postponed for the second time in two weeks, Protect the Public’s Trust highlighted a series of possible ethics issues plaguing the Department recently. Senate Energy Committee leadership moved the vote back after it was clear an insufficient number of Senators were present at the meeting who supported the confirmation of Laura Daniel-Davis for Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals.
 
Ms. Daniel-Davis experienced a rocky confirmation hearing, with Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski expressing her “frustration” and “real anger” over reports of “inappropriate” behavior by Interior staff. Senator Murkowski’s heated questioning occurred in response to evidence that political appointees had been inappropriately engaging with special interests, including former employers, during tribal consultation.
 
The incident discussed by Sen. Murkowski represents just one of a number of potential ethics issues at Interior during Secretary Haaland’s tenure. Last week, PPT sent a letter to DOI Solicitor Robert Anderson, the chief ethics official at the Department, detailing a series of possible ethics violations, including one that is the subject of an Inspector General investigation. The senior official involved in that incident, Deputy Director of Policy and Programs at the Bureau of Land Management Nada Culver, also participated in the tribal consultation. Her presence in a consultation dealing with matters at issue in the IG investigation could create even further ethics issues for the Department.

“At a time when the American public’s trust in government is at an all-time low, the Department of the Interior is not living up to the Administration’s claim to be the most ethical in history,” said Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust. “We at PPT will continue to restore the public’s trust by shining a light on these and other possible incidents of misconduct.”

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