On October 11, 2017, Campaign for Accountability called on the Office of Government Ethics to investigate whether Secretary Ryan Zinke violated ethics rules that prohibit federal employees from endorsing private entities. Secretary Zinke’s endorsement appears on the website of a fundraising firm he used for his congressional campaigns.
A watchdog group, the Campaign for Accountability, was among those who asked Interior's IG to investigate. The group said Zinke's Vegas speech "seems to be a special favor provided to a major political supporter of both Sec. Zinke and the president at taxpayer expense."
Government Watchdog Files Complaint Against Interior Secretary for Possible Violations of Hatch Act, Conflict of Interest Laws
On September 29th, 2017, Campaign for Accountability called on the Office of Special Counsel and the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Interior to investigate whether Secretary Ryan Zinke violated conflict of interest laws and the Hatch Act by speaking before the National Hockey League team the Vegas Golden Knights as part of his official duties.
"The Senate Monday confirmed controversial lawyer David Bernhardt as deputy secretary of the Interior -- the number two executive in charge of managing natural resources. The vote passed 53-43."
"A nonprofit group, Campaign for Accountability, claims that Bernhardt continued to lobby for the Westlands Water District in California after withdrawing his registration as a lobbyist in November. In a letter to the Justice Department asking it to investigate the claim, the group claims Bernhardt edited a draft executive order for then President-elect Trump involving water issues that stood to benefit Westland Water."
"A top U.S. Interior Department nominee violated ethics laws by continuing to lobby on behalf of a major client, according to a complaint filed with prosecutors today by Campaign for Accountability, a Washington, D.C. good government nonprofit."
David Bernhardt, President Trump’s nominee for Deputy Secretary, continued to lobby for the Westlands Water District despite formally withdrawing his lobbying registration.