Interior’s OIG dismisses ethics complaint against Daniel-Davis

Interior’s OIG dismisses ethics complaint against Daniel-Davis

  • July 9, 2024

Michael Doyle, Heather Richards, E&E News

The Interior Department’s internal watchdog has dismissed an ethics complaint against Laura Daniel-Davis, a former National Wildlife Federation executive now serving as the department’s acting deputy secretary.

Capping an inquiry initiated nearly two years ago, investigators reported that they found no ethical conflicts in Daniel-Davis’ work on oil and gas issues in Alaska while she was serving as Interior’s principal deputy assistant secretary for land and minerals management.

“We concluded that Daniel-Davis did not participate in any particular matters involving specific parties in which her former employer, NWF, was a party or represented a party,” Interior’s Office of Inspector General stated in a report summary made public Monday.

The Interior Department declined to comment.

The complaint was filed in September 2022 by an organization called Protect the Public’s Trust, which voiced dissatisfaction with the OIG’s conclusions.

“The American public deserves much more than a continuing series of officials cleared by technicalities from an administration that proclaims itself the most ethical in history. However, when an agency such as the Department of the Interior is stocked with an endless throng of former employees of special interest groups, I guess skating on the edge of the ethics lines is bound to happen now and again, and again and again and again,” said Protect the Public’s Trust Director Michael Chamberlain, a former Trump administration official.

The complaint centered on Daniel-Davis’ attendance at a May 10, 2021, meeting concerning litigation in the Arctic region, as well as her signing letters suspending Interior oil and gas leasing activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Drilling in ANWR has been a political flash point for the Biden administration, pitting the White House’s climate and conservation agenda against Alaska’s oil and gas interests.

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