STATEMENT: Zinke Resignation Doesn’t Clear Cloud of Corruption at Interior, CAP’s Christy Goldfuss Says
Washington, D.C. — After President Donald Trump announced that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke would leave the administration at the end of the year, Christy Goldfuss, senior vice president of Energy and Environment Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
In his short time at the Interior Department, Secretary Zinke used and abused the office for his own financial and personal gain while trampling on the lands, wildlife, and cultural resources he was supposed to protect. While his resignation may or may not save him from the investigations that are closing in around him, it is absolutely clear that Zinke has no business ever occupying another elected office or position of public trust.
Unfortunately, Zinke’s resignation alone does not clear the cloud of corruption that is hanging over the Interior Department. His departure likely elevates David Bernhardt, a lobbyist whose list of former clients reads like a “who’s who” of oil companies and anti-conservation interests. Bernhardt has been quietly working to weaken the Endangered Species Act, speed drilling for oil in the Arctic Refuge, and delivering favors for his former clients. Given his vast conflicts, it is impossible for Bernhardt to effectively and ethically lead the Interior Department, and he should not be allowed to serve as acting secretary—let alone be nominated to the position.
To get to the bottom of the problems that Zinke is leaving behind, the Department of Justice, congressional investigators, and the inspector general need to aggressively and independently pursue their investigations so it can be determined how deep the corruption goes. A full house cleaning at President Trump’s Interior Department is likely in order.
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