Top Dem demands schedule details from Interior nominee

The chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee is requesting that the acting secretary of the Interior Department provide more details from his public schedule, while suggesting the omissions may indicate possible conflicts of interest.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), whose committee oversees the Interior Department, sent a letter to David Bernhardt, President TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau intends to wrap up count on Oct. 5 despite judge's order Top House Republican calls for probe of source of NYT Trump tax documents New Yorkers report receiving ballots with wrong name, voter addresses MORE's nominee for Interior secretary, asking him to provide more information about the people he has met with during his time as deputy secretary and later as acting secretary.

“The versions of calendars that have been obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests and posted to the DOI website are missing important details,” Grijalva wrote, adding that there are more than 100 hours of meetings where Bernhardt didn't specify the participants.

Sections of his schedule that raised red flags to the lawmakers included parts labeled “external meeting," “call” or “event.”

“Last month, as you assumed the role of Acting Secretary of the Department of Interior, you began publishing your schedule on the DOI website with even fewer details,” Grijalva wrote.

The Arizona Democrat added he's concerned that some of the missing details were purposely left out.

“There is further concern that some of your calendar entries may have been altered or left incomplete,” Grijalva wrote.

He compared one of Bernhardt’s entries with the calendar of former Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeTrump extends Florida offshore drilling pause, expands it to Georgia, South Carolina Conspicuous by their absence from the Republican Convention Trump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet MORE, who listed more details, including meeting participants.

“The discrepant entries in both calendars appear to be the same appointment, generated by the same person, indicating that both entries should be identical unless altered or withheld,” he wrote.

Bernhardt, a former energy lobbyist, is known to carry on him a list of the names of former clients who create conflict with his current post so that he doesn't interact with them.

Thursday's letter highlighted Brian Ballard, the president of a lobbying firm whose former clients include President Trump and “which has reportedly built a reputation for helping industry clients get favors from the Trump administration,” Grijalva wrote.

An Interior spokesperson said Bernhardt intends to "adopt best practices" from the schedules of other Cabinet secretaries.

“He has no problem with his calendar being available to the public,” the spokesperson said.

Grijalva said Bernhardt has until Feb. 21 to release all his calendars and schedules dating back to July 24, 2017.