Energy & Environment

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 Grassley (R-Iowa) Thursday seeking a probe. Grassley’s panel has wide-ranging oversight responsibilities over inspectors general.

{mosads}Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson 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 Zinke 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 Tufts’ withdrawn appointment.”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.

Tags Ben Carson Campaign for Accountability Chuck Grassley HUD Inspector General Interior Department Ryan Zinke
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