Government of the Special Interests, by the Special Interests, and for the Special Interests is Back at Interior
- June 21, 2022
Department revokes Secretarial Order designed to stop collusion between government and special interests
Today, federal watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust responded to the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) announcement of the recission of Secretary’s Order 3368, an order that promoted government transparency and accountability.
The new Secretary’s Order would return to an era of behind-closed-doors collusion between special interest groups and the government, leaving the American public without a seat at the table. Several political appointees in high-ranking positions at DOI came to the Department from organizations that could be beneficiaries of this current order, such as Earthjustice, National Wildlife Federation, and World Wildlife Fund. DOI’s new policy allows it to collude with special interest groups to make an end-run around the legislative process, the regulatory process, and other checks meant to protect the public’s interest.
In the press release announcing the decision, which, unsurprisingly, was issued on a Friday before a three-day federal holiday weekend, DOI references “discussions and negotiations, which parties typically agree to keep confidential.” This ignores the fact that the Department is not a normal party but rather one that is supposed to be representing the American public. The public’s trust is best served when government’s work is conducted in the open, but, DOI has given itself the authority to make deals with powerful special interest groups in secret.
“If you thought the days of government operating via smoke-filled rooms was over, the Department of the Interior’s action today should give you cause to think again,” declared Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust. “The Department and allied special interest groups, including those with ties to current employees, can collude on decisions with the American public shut out of the process. Add this to the tally of reasons that trust in government continues to nosedive.”