IG Launches Ethics Investigations Into Six Senior Interior Department Staffers

Tim Pearce | Energy Reporter

The Inspector General for the Department of the Interior is investigating ethics complaints made against six senior staff members at the department, CNN reports.

The nonpartisan watchdog Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a complaint to the Interior IG in February alleging six senior DOI executives violated ethics rules by working on projects that could potentially benefit their former clients or employers.

“Under the ethics pledge, all full-time political appointees cannot participate for two years after appointment in particular matters involving specific parties in which a former employer or former client is or represents a party,” the CLC complaint says.

“Several political appointees at Interior appear to have violated these provisions, which are specifically designed to prevent public officials from using their positions to favor former employers or lobbying clients,” the complaint continues.

The complaint names six political appointees to the department including Deputy Director of Intergovernmental and External Affairs Benjamin Cassidy, White House Liaison Lori Mashburn and Deputy Director of Intergovernmental and External Affairs Timothy Williams.

U.S. President Donald Trump and acting U.S. Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt arrive to place a wreath at the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, U.S., January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

U.S. President Donald Trump and acting U.S. Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt arrive to place a wreath at the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, U.S., January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

“The Department takes ethics issues seriously. The Office of the Secretary immediately consulted with the Department Ethics Office after receiving the subject complaints. Ethics reviewed each matter, and provided materials to the Chief of Staff, who has taken appropriate actions. All of these materials have been provided to the Inspector General,” Interior spokeswoman Faith Vander Voort told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement.

The news comes just over a week after the IG launched an investigation into alleged ethics violations by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. (RELATED: Cory Gardner Slams Democrats’ ‘Double Standard’ On Trump’s Nominee For Interior Secretary)

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was not named in the CLC complaint. Several Democrats in the Senate, namely Ron Wyden of Oregon and Tom Udall of New Mexico, first led an attempt at delaying Bernhardt’s confirmation by alleging he violated ethics rules. After Bernhardt’s confirmation, the senators and other organizations filed an ethics complaint which the IG took up.

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