Scoop: Soros network alum working in Interior Department flagged for ethics concerns by watchdog

Scoop: Soros network alum working in Interior Department flagged for ethics concerns by watchdog

  • June 10, 2024

Matthew Foldi, The Washington Reporter

One of the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) top lawyers joined the administration just after leaving George Soros’s vast network. An ethics watchdog is now calling him the embodiment of the “revolving door spinning furiously in the Biden administration.”

Travis Annatoyn, the Deputy Solicitor for Energy and Mineral Resources at DOI, joined the Biden administration after a lengthy career working on far-left environmental causes. Annatoyn has had to recuse himself in his current position at the DOI from handling a number of entities, which range from the National Audubon Society to Democracy Forward, a dark money group that repeatedly sued former President Donald Trump’s administration, and which received at least $1 million from John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, which Podesta and George Soros co-founded in 2003.

While at Democracy Forward, Annatoyn helped sue agencies like the one he now works at — which has raised eyebrows in the watchdog world.

Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT), one of the Biden administration’s least favorite watchdog groups, obtained thousands of pages of documents relating to Annatoyn and the DOI, which include a warning from the department’s ethics staff to Annatoyn banning him from working on matters pertaining to his former clients.

Michael Chamberlain, PPT’s executive director,  said that Annatoyn is “yet another example of the revolving door spinning furiously in the Biden administration.” Chamberlain told the Reporter that “looking at the list of Annatoyn’s recusals, it’s amazing he was actually able to find much of anything at Interior that he could work on.”

It’s not the first time DOI senior staff have come under fire from watchdog groups. Last year, PPT submitted an ethics complaint urging the department’s inspector general to “investigate yet another apparent ethics violation by DOI Secretary Deb Haaland” that focused on concerns that she “brush[ed] aside all impartiality concerns” when she withdrew oil and gas leases from Chaco Canyon.

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