After Interior, Will Trump Upgrade More Acting Officials to Permanent Status?

05 February, 2019, 20:57 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Trump picks David Bernhardt former oil lobbyist to take over Interior Department

President Donald Trump says he's nominating a Colorado native and Washington veteran with lobbying ties to US energy companies to lead the Interior Department.

David Bernhardt, now Interior's acting head, would replace Ryan Zinke if the Senate approves his nomination.

The Senate confirmed Bernhardt as deputy secretary by a vote of 53 in favor and 43 against.

U.S. President Donald Trump and acting U.S. Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt arrive to place a wreath at the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, U.S., January 21, 2019.

Bernhardt thanked the President in response to the tweet, calling the nomination "a humbling privilege".

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Last week, Bloomberg News reported that Trump had interviewed former U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and current U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, for the position along with Bernhardt. Zinke's departure came amid several ethics investigations into him. "We intend to conduct vigorous oversight of Mr. Bernhardt's industry ties and how they may influence his policy decisions", Grijalva said in a statement.

Bernhardt, who prefers conservative suits to Zinke's cowboy hats and boots, also worked a series of jobs at the Interior Department under former president George W. Bush from 2001 to early 2009, including as the department's solicitor.

After his first round at interior, Bernhardt worked at a Washington law and lobbying firm on behalf of mining companies, oil and gas giants, a politically powerful western water agency and other groups that have business before the interior department.

"David Bernhardt spent much of his career lobbying for fossil fuel and agricultural interests, and the president putting him in charge of regulating his former clients is a flawless example of everything wrong with this administration", Grijalva said in a statement.

Critics say Bernhardt's previous work as a lobbyist could risk conflicts of interest, unless he recuses himself from certain issues, because he worked for companies that could benefit by opening up lands to development.

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