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So little time, so much damage done. That's the legacy left by Bill Wehrum who spent only one and a half years as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) top air quality official before announcing that he will step down this weekend under the cloud of a federal ethics investigation over possible conflicts of interest. His resignation follows conflicting statement he made to Congress about his industry connections, according to Politico.
Ethics investigations have been opened into the conduct of senior Trump appointees at the nation's top environmental agencies.
The two investigations focus on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and six high-ranking officials in the Department of Interior (DOI), The Hill reported Tuesday. Both of them involve the officials' former clients or employers.
"This is demonstrative of the failures at the very top of this administration to set an ethical tone," Campaign Legal Center Ethics Counsel Delaney Marsco told The Washington Post of the DOI investigation. "When people come to work for government, they're supposed to work on behalf of the public. It's a betrayal of the public trust when senior political appointees seem to give privileged access to their former employers or former clients."
Federal law requires officials to disclose any client over the past two years that paid them more than $5,000 ...Andrew Wheeler apparently failed to disclose a former lobbying client that paid him more than $5,000https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/440299-epa-administrator-failed-to-disclose-former-lobbying-client …<p>Here is a brief outline of officials implicated in the most recent investigation, as summarized in <a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/ethics-investigation-interior-department_n_5cbf32e5e4b0f7a84a759984?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuaHVmZnBvc3QuY29tL2ltcGFjdC9ncmVlbg&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAALOPI_bMZEKXLvmbyrkz104m7wafK7jd3E8lhCu6PJbAbUlPhSAd3cC_bdeM8WrHgS_85EAeXA4rG2HS9uO15eVgC6kyRhn-jEAV1GGwR6IdZv2_cv_aJyhzZnHyXhFy3jdOhLLS71UEIdw4hMu2HTEE1HNAt54q_jWoxtvZDBVZ" target="_blank">The Huffington Post</a>.</p><ol><li>White House liaison Lori Mashburn, who attended two private events hosted by her former employer and right-wing think tank the Heritage Foundation</li><li>Senior Deputy Director for Intergovernmental and External Affairs. Ben Cassidy, who participated in agency meetings on issues he had lobbied the department about on behalf of the National Rifle Association, including <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/trophy-hunting" target="_self">trophy hunting</a> and the designation of <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/national-monuments" target="_self">national monuments</a></li><li>Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech, who met with his former employers, a Koch-link think tank called the Texas Public Policy Foundation, about issues over which the foundation was suing DOI</li><li>Former Energy Counselor to Zinke Vincent DeVito, who attended a meeting with a former energy client</li><li>Deputy Director of Interior's Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs Timothy Williams, who participated in a video call with his former employer, who is vice president of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity</li><li>Director of Interior's External Affairs Office Todd Wynn, who had a phone call with a committee member of the oil-funded Council of State Governments, of which he had also been a committee member before taking the DOI job</li></ol><p>"An agency's ethical culture depends on ethical leadership. Former Secretary Ryan Zinke and Secretary David Bernhardt, now under investigation himself for ethics violations, have failed to demonstrate adequate ethical behavior at the top of Interior," Matsco said in a statement reported by The Huffington Post. "We hope this investigation will answer whether these officials are working on behalf of the American people or on behalf of the interests that used to pay their salary."</p><div id="c3b31" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="UI9LZD1568219117"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1121489365081968642" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Federal law requires officials to disclose any client over the past two years that paid them more than $5,000 ...A… https://t.co/eyGYPLO60e</div> — Citizens for Ethics (@Citizens for Ethics)<a href="https://twitter.com/CREWcrew/statuses/1121489365081968642">1556218875.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Julia Conley
Green groups on Saturday celebrated the latest federal ruling aimed at preventing President Donald Trump from rolling back environmental regulations that were put in place by his predecessor.
The Senate voted to confirm former oil-and-gas lobbyist David Bernhardt as Secretary of the Interior Thursday, despite calls from Democrats and government watchdogs to investigate his past conduct, The New York Times reported.
By Jessica Corbett
Environmental activists are calling on senators to reject the nomination of former fossil fuel lobbyist David Bernhardt to lead the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The Justice Department is looking into whether former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lied to investigators at the Department of Interior, The Washington Post reports. Anonymous sources tell the Post that investigators at the Interior's inspector general's office raised the issue with the DOJ after suspecting Zinke may have lied during questioning over his real estate deals in Montana and his review of a Native American casino project in Connecticut.
By Emilie Karrick Surrusco
As 2019 begins, it's out with the old and in with the same old, same old. Scandal-ridden Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released a brief farewell letter Wednesday in red marker. With Zinke's successor not yet named, David Bernhardt becomes acting secretary. The move swaps out one political insider closely aligned with deep-pocketed special interests for another.
Bernhardt, who became deputy secretary of the Department of Interior in August 2017, is "a walking conflict of interest" who served as the Interior Department's top lawyer under George W. Bush—and went on to a lucrative career as a legal adviser for timber companies, mining companies and oil and gas interests. Since returning to the Interior Department under Trump, he has quietly implemented policy decisions that benefit his former corporate polluter clients.
The U.S. government just smashed its own records when an auction on Friday to lease thousands of acres off the Massachusetts coast for offshore wind development brought in a whopping $405.1 million, signaling that this particular renewable energy sector is finally taking off at high speeds, Utility Drive reported.
Embattled Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned Saturday, a month-and-a-half after an investigation into a potential conflict of interest involving oil-giant Halliburton was referred to the Justice Department, The Washington Post reported.