Lawmaker wants to shine light on potential conflicts of interest in audit of Interior ethics office
- February 8, 2022
Juliette Fairley, Legal Newsline
WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) – Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-ARK) is calling for an audit of the Department of Interior’s ethics office involving appointees who have appearances of conflicts of interest based on previous work affiliations.
Westerman requested the audit in a Jan. 24 letter he sent to the Interior Department’s Inspector General Mark Greenblatt after the Washington Examiner reported that Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s senior counselor, Elizabeth Klein, failed to fully reveal to ethics officials the scope of her deputy director job at the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center (SEEIC), which is funded by billionaire and climate litigation advocate Michael Bloomberg.
“This audit request is about good governance and ensuring best practices in ethics compliance,” Westerman told Legal Newsline. “Documents raise doubts about President Biden’s political appointees’ compliance with ethics requirements. For example, Ms. Klein, the Senior Counselor to the Interior Secretary, failed to disclose a complete list of clients from her previous employer.”
Klein’s ethics disclosures are also being sought by Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) and Energy Policy Advocates (EPA), who last month jointly filed a complaint with Greenblatt and Gottry, requesting an investigation into potential misrepresentation by Klein with respect to previous client relationships.
The nonpartisan PPT is a watchdog that monitors compliance in government with an eye on restoring the public’s trust in government officials while EPA focuses on transparency in governmental decisions relating to energy and environmental policy.