STATEMENT on the nomination of David Bernhardt as Deputy Interior Secretary

Apr 28, 2017

DENVER—The White House this morning announced President Trump nominated David Bernhardt to be the Deputy Secretary of the Interior. The Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Media Director Aaron Weiss:

“David Bernhardt is a walking conflict of interest. If he does not recuse himself from working on issues he has profited from as a lobbyist, he will be the embodiment of the Washington swamp—taking a high-level government job to help his private sector partners cash in. If Bernhardt does recuse himself from all his conflicts, he’ll have nothing to work on at Interior.”

The Center for Western Priorities last week documented several of Bernhardt’s conflicts of interest, ranging from his work on behalf of the U.S. subsidiary of a Russian-American oligarch’s oil conglomerate, to a company that’s determined to drain water from the Mojave desert despite dire warnings about the project’s impact on wildlife.

While at the Department of the Interior under the George W. Bush administration, Bernhardt was connected to several ethical lapses. As Interior Solicitor, he sided with a political appointee, Julie MacDonald, who doctored reports from government scientists and passed sensitive internal documents on to industry lawyers. Bernhardt also forced out a whistleblower, Robert McCarthy, who exposed mismanagement of Indian Trust funds.