House Republicans on the Natural Resources Committee are probing Interior Secretary Deb Haaland for potential conflicts of interest in high-stakes decisions.
On Monday, 11 GOP lawmakers sent a letter to the secretary of the Interior demanding the agency chief turn over records related to her professional relationship with her daughter and husband, who both work on behalf of federally recognized Indian tribes.
Haaland’s daughter, Somah, works for the Pueblo Action Alliance (PAA), a far-left Albuquerque-based climate group that opposes oil and gas exploration on public lands. Secretary Haaland’s husband, Skip Sayre, is the chief of sales and marketing for the Laguna Development Corporation, the “business arm” of the Laguna Pueblo.
“Prior to joining the Biden administration as Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Secretary Haaland was evidently involved with the Pueblo Action Alliance,” lawmakers reported. “Secretary Haaland has purportedly met with PAA leaders during her time as Secretary of the Interior to discuss PAA’s opposition to oil and gas production on federal lands.”
The Pueblo Action Alliance prominently opposed drilling around New Mexico’s Chaco Cultural National Historical Park. On Friday, Secretary Haaland announced a 10-mile radius around the world heritage site now cut off from new oil and gas development for the next 20 years. The New York Times ignored the secretary’s potential conflicts in the decision in the paper’s coverage last week.
House Republicans wrote Monday that lawmakers are “concerned with Secretary Haaland’s compliance with ethical obligations and potential conflicts of interest given PAA’s opposition to oil and gas production on federal lands, Secretary Haaland’s involvement with PAA, Somah’s work with PAA to limit domestic energy production, and the work of Secretary Haaland’s husband.”
“In 2022, Somah was involved in a PAA trip to Capitol Hill to ‘lobby members of Congress’ on legislation that would prohibit lease sales for oil and gas development on federal land,” House Republicans wrote. “Earlier this year, Somah represented PAA at a People vs. Fossil Fuels rally and declared ‘we all need to work together to stop oil and gas developments.'”
Kathleen Sgamma, the president of the Western Energy Alliance, said in a statement, “Secretary Haaland has conflicts of interest that simply wouldn’t be tolerated if they were on behalf of oil and natural gas companies and should not be tolerated when they’re on behalf of environmental special interests which are themselves big business.”