Trump’s nominee for Interior secretary hasn’t even been confirmed, but he’s already mired in at least 15 scandals
Just when you thought Ryan Zinke’s resignation would be the end of rampant corruption scandals at the Department of the Interior, along comes his former deputy David Bernhardt. It’s only been two weeks since President Trump nominated the former oil and gas lobbyist to head the department, but by our count, he’s already involved in at least 15 separate corruption-related scandals.
Just like we did for his former boss, we plan to keep this scandal tracker up-to-date by adding, subtracting, or elaborating on each scandal as it develops.
The notecard Bernhardt has to carry around to remind him of all his ethics recusals, and their expiry dates. (Western Values Project)
Many of Bernhardt’s scandals are related in one way or another to his work lobbying for the extraction and agriculture industries, which he did up until he joined the DOI in 2017. Famously, Bernhardt carried around the note card pictured above to remind him of all the various conflicts of interest his former career created, as well as the dates when those conflicts legally expire. That he may have worked in the interest of his former clients before those dates is the central thrust of Bernhardt’s scandals, in addition to simple mismanagement and neglect of the 500 million acres of public land and 70,000 employees he’s responsible for.
Fiddling with FOIA
On March 5, 2018, a bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote to Bernhardt expressing concern that alterations he’s making to DOI’s Freedom of Information Act procedures amount to an attempt to suppress the department’s transparency.
Why you should care: FOIA is the public’s mechanism for peering inside the federal government’s decision making process. Messing with it smacks of an attempted cover up.