The Department of the Interior (DOI) inspector general’s office found a top official within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to comply with a federal ethics pledge when meeting with a former employer.
Without revealing the identity of the appointee, the inspector general’s office found the subject in question “violated paragraph 2 of the Ethics Pledge by participating in an official capacity in a meeting” with a former employer last year.
Under paragraph 2 of the Ethics Pledge, the BLM official committed that they ‘[would] not for a period of 2 years from the date of [the] appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to [the] former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.’ According to the Ethics Pledge, to ‘participate’ means to ‘participate personally and substantially.’
The violating employee, however, according to the inspector general’s office, was found to have met with a prior employer in a meeting that was “both personal and substantial.”
While the inspector general’s office did not disclose the identities of those involved, the independent nonprofit government watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) says the circumstances of the report closely match a complaint affiliated with BLM’s Nada Culver. The inspector general’s office conducted an investigation in response to a complaint from the group in June 2021 over Culver’s supposed conduct serving as deputy director of policy and programs.
“Currently the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) #2, Ms. Culver was delegated the authority of the BLM Director while the current director, Tracy Stone-Manning, awaited Senate confirmation,” the group wrote in a press release. “While Ms. Culver was the de facto BLM head, PPT filed an ethics complaint alleging she participated in a matter in which her former employer was involved.”
The watchdog nonprofit also linked to documents from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request pointing to Culver as the culprit.
“The ethics violation revealed by the investigation triggered by our complaint proves the necessity of ethics oversight,” said PPT Director Michael Chamberlain. “The IG’s confirmation of a violation by Ms. Culver appears to be another piece of evidence demonstrating the laissez-faire attitude toward ethics under Secretary Haaland’s leadership. It is disappointing that such a large and powerful agency does not seem to have taken to heart the Biden Administration’s pledge to be the most ethical in history.”