Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today called for a delay in the nomination of David Bernhardt as Secretary of the Department of the Interior to allow the Interior Department watchdog to investigate mounting and unanswered conflict-of-interest and other ethics questions about the nominee.
Wyden’s call in a Senate floor speech follows news reports that the Interior Department Inspector General is reviewing allegations that Bernhardt violated his ethics pledge by engaging in activity that directly benefited one of his former clients. The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is scheduled to vote on Bernhardt’s nomination on Thursday.
“With all the Trump appointees who’ve resigned in scandal, it’s clear this Republican-controlled Senate has decided that it’s going to confirm first and ask questions later, and maybe not at all,” Wyden said. “I believe that needs to change right now. It’s past time to restore public trust in this process. I do not believe the Senate should allow the Interior Department to turn into a revolving door of corruption and scandal. The vote on the Bernhardt nomination should not proceed tomorrow.”
A video of Wyden’s floor remarks today can be found here.
Wyden pressed Bernhardt directly on his questionable ethics and conflicts of interest during Bernhardt’s nomination hearing before the Committee last week. Following concerns that Bernhardt potentially made misleading or false statements during the hearing about his role in blocking a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) assessment of the effect of toxic pesticides on several endangered species, Wyden requested that the Interior Department Inspector General also investigate these allegations—a request to which the Inspector General has not yet responded.