FOIA Docs Reveal More Smoke from Possible Ethics Fires at Interior

FOIA Docs Reveal More Smoke from Possible Ethics Fires at Interior

  • February 7, 2022

Senior official caught communicating with board member of her former employer

Today, Protect the Public’s Trust announced its investigation into potentially improper communications between a senior official at the Department of the Interior and a board member of her former employer.

Records obtained by Protect the Public’s Trust via a Freedom of Information Act request reveal an email exchange between Laura Daniel-Davis and a self-identified board member of the National Wildlife Federation, Ms. Daniel-Davis’s former employer. The records obtained by PPT also show that NWF had reached out to others in the Department of the Interior only days earlier on the same issue. In line to be Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, Daniel-Davis previously served as policy director for NWF and is recused from participating in particular matters involving the group, including most interactions with the organization’s board members and officers.

In response to this discovery, PPT submitted a FOIA request to obtain additional information about the interactions between Ms. Daniel-Davis and individuals and entities that may be covered by her ethics restrictions. If inappropriate communications are obtained, it would not be the first ethical transgression alleged under Secretary Haaland’s watch. PPT has uncovered a series of possible ethical missteps by high-ranking officials at the Department of the Interior, including at least one that prompted an Inspector General’s investigation.

“In light of what appears to be a pattern of ethical indiscretions at the Department of the Interior, it’s essential for the Department to be entirely transparent,” stated Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust. “There seems to be a lot of smoke around the behavior of the Department’s high-level officials. If the American public is ever to regain its trust in government, the leadership at DOI needs to convince the American public that there aren’t any fires there.”