Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s Relationship with Activist Daughter Under Spotlight In New Lawsuits

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s Relationship with Activist Daughter Under Spotlight In New Lawsuits

  • April 18, 2023

A nonprofit watchdog group is suing the Department of the Interior over communications between Secretary Deb Haaland, her activist daughter, and department officials.

Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) filed two lawsuits against the Biden administration on Monday; one against the Interior Department and another against one of its agencies, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Both lawsuits are over an open records request PPT filed with Interior for communications between Haaland’s daughter Somah and the secretary and other department officials, according to Fox News.

Somah is a media organizer for the Pueblo Action Alliance (PAA), a New Mexico environmental group pushing for a moratorium on oil and gas drilling within a 10-mile radius of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The ban, which has been picked up and proposed by BLM, has drawn fire from industry and Native American interests.

Somah’s position as an activist and the daughter of the official ultimately in charge of the department she is lobbying is a red flag for an ethical breach, according to PPT Director Michael Chamberlain. PPT has filed open record requests for any communications concerning the film sent between Somah and her secretary mother and other department officials.

“Her daughter’s activism and lobbying efforts certainly have the potential to create the perception in the minds of the public that Secretary Haaland could be conflicted on issues under her authority,” Chamberlain told Fox News. “Further complicating matters is the participation of an organization that claims Somah Haaland among its leadership in the protest that turned into a riot at the Interior headquarters.”

“Each of these items alone would point to the need for DOI to provide more transparency into any relationships and interactions between Somah Haaland and senior Department officials,” added Chamberlain. “Taken together, this need is magnified.”

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