Dem to seek investigation into Interior staff reassignments

Dem to seek investigation into Interior staff reassignments

The top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee wants an investigation into an Interior Department employee’s claim that he was reassigned due to his work on climate change.

Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellAvalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Week ahead: Trump expected to shrink two national monuments Live coverage: Senate Republicans pass tax bill MORE (D-Wash.) said at a Thursday hearing that she would officially ask Interior’s inspector general to look into the matter.

Her request came a day after Joel Clement, the former director of Interior’s Office of Policy Analysis, wrote a Washington Post op-ed saying he was improperly reassigned to an accounting position because of his work on helping Alaskan communities cope with climate change.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We need to make sure that those individuals who have the experience, who are involved in the science, are going to continue to fulfill those responsibilities,” Cantwell said at an unrelated hearing about nominees to Interior and the Department of Energy.

“Sure, there are always reorganizations at an agency,” she said, adding that employees with the necessary experiences should stay in the jobs their suited for.

Clement also filed a complaint against political appointees, saying his reassignment was the result of illegal political interference.

Federal agencies are allowed to reassign employees in Senior Executive Service positions like Clement, with some limitations.

“Personnel moves amongst the Senior Executive Service are being conducted to better serve the taxpayer and the department's operations through matching Senior Executive skill sets with mission and operational requirements,” Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift said Wednesday.