Interior Department

Watchdog Again Calls for Investigation of Interior Nominee David Bernhardt for Lobbying Disclosure Violations

On April 5, 2019, CfA again called on federal officials to investigate whether Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt and his former lobbying firm, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP, violated the Lobbying Disclosure Act and the False Statements Act by failing to disclose Mr. Bernhardt’s apparent lobbying in connection with Westlands Water District (Westlands), an agricultural conglomerate in California. New documents indicate that Mr. Bernhardt continued to work for Westlands through April 2017 despite formally withdrawing his lobbying registration on November 18, 2016.

Bernhardt pushes ethics reforms amid complaints

"Bernhardt's ethics memo yesterday also happened to come on the same day the Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit watchdog group, announced that Interior's Office of Inspector General confirmed it is reviewing a request for investigation into Bernhardt and his relationship with his former lobbying client, Westlands Water District in California."

Interior Dept. watchdog reviewing allegations that acting secretary violated Trump ethics pledge

"Several groups, including the Campaign Legal Center and the Campaign for Accountability, as well as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), have questioned Bernhardt’s role in the Interior Department’s push to conduct an environmental analysis of proposed changes to federal and state water projects in California. That effort could free up more water for the Westlands Water District, which serves farmers in California’s Central Valley."

Watchdog amps up call for Wheeler lobbying probes

"In a follow-up complaint sent to the clerk of the House, the secretary of the Senate and — for the first time — the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, the Campaign for Accountability (CfA) requested investigations of potential violations of lobbying laws and statements made to the federal government by Wheeler and Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, where he worked prior to joining EPA."

Watchdog Again Calls for Investigation of EPA Chief Andrew Wheeler for Failing to Disclose Lobbying Contacts

On March 12, 2019, CfA called on federal officials to investigate whether Andrew Wheeler, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), and his former lobbying firm, Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, violated the Lobbying Disclosure Act by failing to disclose an April 2017 meeting with an Interior Department official regarding the borders of Bears Ears National Monument.

Bernhardt ethics probe sought over endangered fish rollback

"'Mr. Bernhardt exemplifies the definition of a revolving door official. Public officials should serve in government to carry out the public's interests, not the interests of their lobbying clients,' CFA Executive Director Daniel Stevens wrote in the request. 'Ethics officials should immediately investigate Mr. Bernhardt's actions and determine if he violated the ethics pledge.'"

Watchdog Calls for Investigation into Acting Interior Secretary’s Actions to Benefit Former Lobbying Client

On February 19, 2019, CfA called on ethics officials at the Interior Department and the Office of Government Ethics to investigate David Bernhardt, the Acting Secretary of the Department of the Interior, and his relationship with his former lobbying client, Westlands Water District, an agricultural conglomerate in California. While at Interior, Mr. Bernhardt initiated a review of Endangered Species Act protections for two endangered species of fish in California, an issue he advocated for while working as a lobbyist for Westlands.

Ryan Zinke Taps Cousin Of Anti-Federal-Land Zealot For National Park Advisory Board

"Yet in the past he provided financial support to his cousin’s work. In 2012 he and his wife, Kathryn Ivory, made a $6,000 donation to a nonprofit called Where’s the Line, America? Foundation, according to documents HuffPost obtained from Campaign for Accountability, a watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Ken Ivory served as executive director of the group at the time of their contribution."

Don’t Be Too Excited by Zinke’s Potential Departure

"Bernhardt’s links to industry have remained so strong during his tenure as Deputy Secretary that he’s actually drawn complaints from ethics watchdogs that he’s illegally continued his lobby activities while serving as a government official. According to a Campaign for Accountability complaint, he submitted a draft executive order about water rights in California to WWD for edits. The organization also alleges that he continued his work advising WWD well into 2017."

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