Group seeks Senate investigation into Interior watchdog flap

Group seeks Senate investigation into Interior watchdog flap
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An outside group wants the Senate to investigate how a Trump administration official was apparently incorrectly reported to be the next internal watchdog for the Interior Department.

The Campaign for Accountability, which has worked to investigate many Trump administration officials, sent a formal complaint to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyDrug prices are a matter of life and death Senate panel to hear from pharmacy middlemen on drug prices Seniors win big with Trump rebate rule  MORE (R-Iowa) Thursday seeking a probe. Grassley’s panel has wide-ranging oversight responsibilities over inspectors general.

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Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonCarson's calendar includes trips to Florida on Fridays: report The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Dems grapple with race, gender and privilege Ben Carson says he will step down after Trump's first term ends MORE told staff earlier this month that his politically nominated assistant secretary for administration, Suzanne Israel Tufts, would leave to becoming acting inspector general for Interior.

Following backlash from Democrats and government ethics groups, Interior later said Carson’s email was “false” and Tufts would not work at Interior. She then resigned from HUD.

“It seems someone tried to push out Interior’s IG to protect Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeActing Interior chief moves to protect access to public lands Overnight Energy: Judge halts drilling on Wyoming public lands over climate change | Dems demand details on Interior's offshore drilling plans | Trump mocks wind power Dem senators demand offshore drilling info before Bernhardt confirmation hearing MORE from the myriad investigations into his ethical lapses,” Daniel Stevens, the Campaign for Accountability’s executive director, said in a statement.

“As a long-time advocate for inspectors general, Sen. Grassley should investigate the questionable timing and shifting explanations for Ms. Tufts’ withdrawn appointment.”

Tufts would have replaced Mary Kendall as the top official in the Interior inspector general’s office. Under Kendall, the office has numerous ongoing investigations involving Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.