Senior Biden official likely violated federal ethics law, watchdogs charge
- January 18, 2022
Andrew Kerr, Washington Examiner
A top Interior Department lawyer likely violated a federal ethics law by taking part in matters involving her former employer and clients, two watchdog groups charge in a fresh complaint filed with the department’s inspector general.
The complaint filed Tuesday alleges that Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland‘s senior counselor, Elizabeth Klein, failed to disclose to ethics officials in full the scope of her work as deputy director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center, a position she held for almost the entirety of the Trump administration. The center, funded by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, placed lawyers in the offices of Democratic state attorneys general that helped file over 130 regulatory and legal challenges against Trump-era federal environmental policies.
Ethics officials advised Klein in June to abstain for one year from any matters involving the states of Massachusetts, Washington, Minnesota, New York, and Maryland after following her disclosure in a January 2021 email that she struck agreements with the attorneys general of those states as part of her work with the center. But records obtained by watchdog groups Energy Policy Advocates and Protect the Public’s Trust show that Klein was also a party in center’s agreements with five other states and Washington, D.C., that she does not appear to have disclosed to ethics officials.