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 GrassleyTrump set to have close ally Graham in powerful chairmanship Overnight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — GOP lawmaker pushes back on Trump drug pricing plan | Pfizer to raise prices on 41 drugs next year | Grassley opts for Finance gavel McConnell: Criminal justice bill unlikely this year 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 CarsonDetroit school board considers dropping Ben Carson’s name from local high school Number of homeless vets declined in last year Overnight Energy: Chief energy regulator vows to steer clear of political fights | Zinke was referred to DOJ shortly before watchdog controversy | Groups threaten to sue EPA over paint stripper 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 ZinkeLawmakers say California will eventually get emergency funding for fire relief Mulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Overnight Energy: Trump to visit California wildfire victims | Head of Park Service climate program resigns | Dems rip Trump pick for energy panel 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.