Watchdog sues to access Interior Department records about Secretary Haaland’s daughter
- April 25, 2023
WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) – A federal watchdog has filed three lawsuits against two federal agencies for alleged non-compliance with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that involves interactions with Somah Haaland, the daughter of U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Deb Haaland.
Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) sued the DOI twice on April 17 and the Bureau of Land Management also on April 17 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
PPT is seeking answers as to whether the younger Haaland’s alleged lobbying of D.C. lawmakers to end oil and gas leasing near a New Mexico historical site is a conflict of interest since her mother oversees such matters at the DOI.
“Certainly, in people’s minds that creates the perception that there could be a conflict of interest there, and also we do have some concerns because Somah Haaland is listed among the leaders of the Pueblo Action Alliance and that group was involved in organizing the protest at the Department of Interior in October of 2021 that erupted into a riot in which at least one law enforcement official had to go to the hospital, and over 50 people were arrested,” said Michael Chamberlain, executive director of PPT.
“We know there was at least one of the organizers of the protest that had communications with some of the top leadership at the department prior to the protest in the days leading up to it,” Chamberlain said. “We don’t know who that is. We do not know who that person is but these communications may help to lead to determine who that person might be.”
“We believe there are records that the department is legally obligated to release, and that the American public has a distinct interest in knowing,” Chamberlain added.