Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland reported no assets on a financial disclosure form, which may have violated reporting rules for executive appointees according to a new complaint with the inspector general.
On Wednesday, the nonprofit government transparency group Protect the Public’s Trust demanded an investigation into the secretary’s financial filings from the independent agency watchdog. With a congressional salary of $174,000 in the two years preceding her appointment, combined with previous employment and a recent marriage to a millionaire, Haaland’s reported assets at zero are suspect.
“If the Biden administration is to live up to its promise to be the best ethical and most transparent in history, it would be prudent for Secretary Haaland to go above and beyond bare minimum reporting requirements,” said Protect the Public’s Trust Director Michael Chamberlain in a press release.
Presidential appointees are not required to report income from federal employment, but they are obligated to disclose bank and investment accounts worth at least $5,000. Haaland failed to report any beyond an annual payment of $175 from the Pueblo of Laguna.
“While there are many Americans in difficult financial straits who do not themselves have a bank account with at least $5,000, it is hard to imagine someone in Secretary Haaland’s situation being among them, particularly given more recent filings showing she has been living with a millionaire for years,” Chamberlain added. “Even if she complied with the letter of the law in her required reporting, her disclosures hardly seem to reflect her true circumstances, and neither she nor the Department seemed anxious to clarify the record.”
Wednesday’s complaint is not the first Protect the Public’s Trust has filed regarding officials in the Biden Interior Department. In April, the group sought a probe into potential ethics violations over gifts to the secretary at her New Mexico wedding in August.
The group also filed a complaint over Bureau of Land Management Director Tracy Stone-Manning’s apparent lie to Congress when the director misled lawmakers about her role in a 1993 tree-spiking case.