The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is directly responsible for meeting the statutory mission of promoting economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the administration of programs and operations and to prevent and detect fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement in such programs and operations.
In the United States, “Office of Inspector General” is a generic term for the oversight division of a federal or state agency aimed at preventing inefficient or unlawful operations within their parent agency.
The Department of Interior (DOI) is an administration, Cabinet-level agency, that manages America’s natural and cultural resources through nine bureaus. These bureaus include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The mission statement of the Department of Interior Office of the Inspector General (DOI-OIG) reads “The mission of the Office of Inspector General is to provide independent oversight and promote excellence, integrity, and accountability within the programs, operations, and management of the U.S. Department of the Interior.”
Today from E&E:
IG dismisses ethics complaint against BLM’s Pendley
The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General has dismissed an ethics complaint filed more than five months ago against the Bureau of Land Management’s acting director.
But the IG’s office never notified the wild horse advocacy group that filed the complaint of its decision against opening a formal case against William Perry Pendley.
The IG’s office also never told Pendley, although a spokeswoman for the investigative agency said that’s routine in cases where a formal case is never opened.
The complaint — filed by Laura Leigh, the advocacy group’s president — suggested that Pendley was working on policies to reduce growing wild horse and burro herds with some of the organizations on a lengthy list of special-interest groups that Pendley recused himself from interacting with on BLM business while employed at the bureau.
The complaint contended that BLM policies supported by Pendley would “directly benefit entities on the recusal list,” specifically the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, which advocates for livestock ranchers, and the farm bureaus in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.
The complaint alleged that the “sweeping changes to, and extreme position of Mr. Pendley on the BLM Wild Horse and Burro program” reflect “positions actively advocated for through lobby efforts that will directly benefit entities on the recusal list.”
It also said that public statements by Pendley on the overpopulation of wild horses and burros on federal rangelands raised questions about his “impartiality” on the issue.
“There is a real danger that due to a lack of ethics oversight, sweeping legislative changes will create long lasting consequence to public resources,” the complaint said.
Nancy DiPaolo, an IG spokeswoman, said investigators did their “due diligence on the complaint” but determined there was not enough evidence to support opening a case.
That decision, DiPaolo said, was made Dec. 16 — nearly four months ago.
Leigh of Wild Horse Education told E&E News this week that she had “not received any update, on anything, in months,” and that she was not aware the complaint had been closed.
“Initially, I received two phone calls” from investigators in late November, she said. “I answered questions and provided additional documentation and made suggestions on others they should contact.”
She said she was not surprised when told by E&E News that the complaint had been closed.
“There is no responsibility to the letter, spirit or intent of law,” Leigh said. “Public interest does not mean the general public or the taxpayer anymore; it means corporate cronies.”
She added: “There is no oversight at DOI anymore: nada, zip, zilch.”
In the last 3 years Wild Horse Education has filed 3 requests for DOI-IG to look into individuals and abuses of power, inappropriate influence and wastes of tax-payer funding at the BLM specifically. The additional complaint against Ryan Zike (former Secretary of Interior) joined 17 other Ethics complaints by multiple organizations that never resolved.
The case against former Deputy Director John Ruhs resolved by the IG handing the complaint over to Ruhs for “self-evaluation.” (Yes, a detailed complaint that clearly demonstrated abuse of power, inappropriate influence and waste of taxpayer funding, was literally handed to the accused to determine any action.)
The inquiry into appropriate actions by former Deputy Director Brian Steed, who was forwarding agenda he had literally written for special interests as Chief of Staff for Chris Stewart (R-UT) were “dismissed” when Steed resigned.
The complaint against Pendley operating with a blatant agenda pushed by his former law clients (and an agenda he himself represented in losing federal litigation as a private attorney) did not merit a formal IG inquiry.
Each of these men has a deep connection to what has been dubbed “the extremist movement.” For those of you following WHE, you can refresh a “basic” by revisiting a hearing in 2016 HERE.
It should be noted that William Perry Pendley is another Deputy Director acting with the authority of the Director. Under this administration there has been no director of the BLM, an appointment that would require Senate approval.
Why are the top chairs at BLM going without scrutiny?
A blog post by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is very informative: Trumps War on Watchdogs.
At EPA, for example, Administrator Andrew Wheeler has taken the stand that that IG has no power to compel EPA employees to interview with IG agents. Significantly, Wheeler clearly has the power to order EPA employees to cooperate with IG requests but is now declining to do so.
In addition, Wheeler is demanding that the IG withdraw a report about EPA’s failure to warn a community about its exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.
Perhaps the epitome of this phenomena is Trump outrageously accusing his own acting Health & Human Services IG, Christi Grimm, of releasing a “fake dossier” which was actually a report of a survey of hundreds of hospitals about equipment shortages.
The rapid removal, or public shaming, of any IG that dares to find any wrongdoing is leaving any IG in fear for their career.
“Ignoring the truth, ignoring those that seek it, attacking anyone that dares to speak it. Just make it go away and it doesn’t exist.” LLeigh “Public employees are shirking responsibility to the public. But at least they keep their job, that now has no public function except to help corruption spread.”
The IG may have dismissed this probe, but WHE is not done yet.
Where to from here?
If the Inspector Generals fail? We need Congress to step up. We need a Congressional Inquiry into the DOI-IG.
While the country is dealing with a national emergency the abuses of power are running rampant.
PLEASE urge your rep to join the call to STOP DOI from ramming through policy changes, many of which have deep corruption that IG’s have failed to address (giveaways to livestock, oil and gas and more).
We are preparing a packet and call to action on the lack of Oversight. When IG’s fail, it is the duty of Congress to step in. More soon.
Can you help us stay in this fight? Our work to protect and preserve our wild horses, and the land they stand, must continue in these chaotic times. We need your support to remain vigilant in our work.
Categories: Wild Horse Education