March 14, 2013
Dear Secretary Salazar:
It is paramount that the American people have confidence that the Department of the Interior (“Department”) officials who manage federal lands and resources on their behalf are acting with the highest of ethical standards. Since last year, the Committee on Natural Resources (“Committee”) has been conducting oversight of how political appointees and senior career officials within the Department are complying with federal ethics and conflict of interest laws.
Staff from the Department’s Ethics Office, which is housed within the Solicitor’s Office, briefed the Committee’s Majority oversight staff in September 2012 on the operations and activities of the Department’s ethics program, including interactions with and the process for referrals to the Department’s Office of Inspector General (“IG”) for formal investigation. In a September 25, 2012 letter to you, the Committee requested copies of any referrals or memoranda sent from the Ethics Office to the IG since January 1, 2009 concerning alleged violations of federal ethics laws and regulations. The Department did not provide the documents, as requested. Instead, officials with the Ethics Office and the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs responded orally to Majority oversight staff that only eight ethics cases had been referred to the IG for further investigation since January 2009. According to this information, only one of these cases involved a senior career official, and none involved a political appointee.
Read the entire letter HERE.