Tracy Stone-Manning FOIA Docs Reveal DOI Communications Staff Dodging and Diverting in Response to Questions
- March 7, 2022
Allegations of false statements and other possible misconduct plagued controversial nominee
Today, federal watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust announced the receipt of the first round of Freedom of Information Act request documents related to potentially false statements made to Congress in the confirmation process of Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone-Manning. The controversial nominee was confirmed by the Senate on September 30, 2021, after a contentious battle involving allegations that she had provided false testimony regarding her involvement in an eco-terrorism incident and may have violated ethics rules connected to a $100,000 below-market rate loan she received while working as a Senate staffer.
The documents, which cover a period in June and July 2021 around Ms. Stone-Manning’s testimony to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, reveal the communications team at the Department of the Interior (DOI) fending off questions from media about these incidents. While evidence related to the eco-terrorism incident emerged that contradicted her statements and members of the committee contended that Ms. Stone-Manning “lied” to them in her written testimony, the newly released documents show DOI’s communications staff attempting to downplay the concerns about Ms. Stone-Manning’s background and the veracity of her statements made to Congress. Whether Department leadership participated or assisted in possible attempts to mislead Congress remains an open question.
In light of publicly known information, PPT requested the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia investigate possible violations of the False Statements Act in Ms. Stone-Manning’s written testimony. After her confirmation the watchdog submitted a complaint with the DOI Inspector General, which included additional evidence that came to light during the confirmation battle bolstering these allegations.
“While the political questions surrounding Tracy Stone-Manning’s nomination were settled with her confirmation, we believe the ethical questions that we and others raised persist,” Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust, stated. “The evidence we have seen is not reassuring regarding the participation of DOI officials in possibly misrepresenting facts to Congress. This is hardly the type of behavior the American public should expect from high-level officials in an administration touting itself as the most ethical in history.”