Interior Secretary Deb Haaland dogged by ethics questions over daughter’s anti-drilling activism
- May 4, 2023
Valerie Richardson, Washington Times
President Biden isn’t the only member of his administration with family issues.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland is being dogged by ethics questions stemming from her daughter Somah Haaland’s activism against oil and gas leasing near Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico. The issue pits the department against the Navajo Nation.
The Standing Committee of the 25th Navajo Nation Council voted Monday to reject any buffer zone around the Chaco Culture National Historical Park. It pulled its compromise proposal after a stalemate with the Interior Department over valuable leasing allotments owned by tribal members.
Protect the Public’s Trust filed lawsuits in April against the department and the Bureau of Land Management after receiving no responses to its Jan. 2 requests under the Freedom of Information Act for communications between the administration and Somah Haaland.
Michael Chamberlain, director of Protect the Public’s Trust, said Somah Haaland’s activism “has tremendous potential to create the appearance in the minds of the American public that the secretary is no longer an objective decision-maker on this issue.”
“We believe that, under the circumstances, this should put the agency on high alert for the potential of misconduct and the need for transparency,” Mr. Chamberlain said. “Yet what we have gotten instead is diversion and a lack of transparency about the extent of any relationships and conversations between the secretary’s daughter and department leadership.”