Interior’s ‘Unusual’ Transfer of Senior Executives Spurs Official Probe

In Conflict of Interest, Environment On
- Updated

It doesn’t smell right, so maybe an official probe will tell if it’s rotten.

The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is examining the extraordinary and politically suspect reassignment of dozens of Senior Executive Service (SES) members.

The OIG’s review is in response to a request from eight Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. They asked for the probe after one Interior senior executive, Joel Clement, wrote a Washington Post article that said he was reassigned and “retaliated against for speaking out publicly about the dangers that climate change poses to Alaska Native communities.”

Nancy K. DiPaolo, an OIG spokesperson, said the assessment could take a few months and that “you can expect the review to list out what facts are found.”

In a letter led by Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), the Democrats requested the IG action because of “troubling newspaper reports of the arbitrary reassignment of as many as 50 Senior Executive Service employees of the Department of the Interior. … Any suggestion that the Department is reassigning SES employees to force them to resign, to silence their voices, or to punish them for the conscientious performance of their public duties is extremely troubling and calls for the closest examination.”

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