Interior officials accused of violating ethics pledge

A government ethics group is accusing six political officials at the Interior Department of violating the Trump administration’s ethics pledge.

The Campaign Legal Center sent a formal complaint to Interior’s Office of Inspector General, asking it to investigate those officials’ compliance with provisions of the pledge all political appointees sign, including cooling-off periods for working on matters involving former employers, restrictions on meeting with former employers or clients, and restrictions on dealing with matters for which an employee used to lobby.

“Several political appointees at Interior appear to have violated these provisions, which are specifically designed to prevent public officials from using their positions to favor former employers or lobbying clients,” the group wrote.

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“Taken together, the violations outlined below suggest a disturbing pattern of misconduct across the Department of the Interior that warrants your office’s immediate attention,” they wrote.

The targets of the Wednesday letter are assistant secretary for insular and international affairs Doug Domenech, senior deputy director of intergovernmental and external affairs Benjamin Cassidy, former energy adviser Vincent DeVito, deputy director of intergovernmental and external affairs Timothy Williams, White House liaison Lori Mashburn and director of intergovernmental and external affairs Todd Wynn.

The Campaign Legal Center’s letter lays out specific allegations regarding each official, based on public documents, news reports and other sources.

Interior spokeswoman Faith Vander Voort said Interior “takes ethics agreements very seriously” and that all political appointees have received ethics training.

“The Department is committed to creating a culture of compliance,” she said.

Nancy DiPaolo, a spokeswoman for the inspector general’s office, said her office received the complaint Wednesday and would review it.