May 02, 2019

Wyden Presses Interior Solicitor General Nominee on “Non-existent Record of Ethics Enforcement”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today at a U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing raised serious concerns about Department of the Interior Solicitor General nominee Daniel Jorjani’s “non-existent record of ethics enforcement during his time as Acting Solicitor.”


Wyden cited several examples for his concerns, including investigations into wrongdoing at the agency that were closed without resolution due to a lack of cooperation or records production, the refusal of the agency to meet congressional requests as two House Committees investigate whether Secretary David Bernhardt complied with recordkeeping laws, and Jorjani’s role overseeing Interior’s new Freedom of Information Act policies.


Wyden also raised an email sent by Jorjani to another Interior official on March 28, 2017 wherein Jorjani boasted of protecting Interior political appointees from Inspector General investigations and claimed, “at the end of the day, it is our job to protect the Secretary.”


“Last time I looked, Interior lawyers are responsible for protecting the best interests of the American public before those of the secretary or special interests,” Wyden said during the hearing. “Here’s my conclusion: the way Interior has acted under the Trump administration is the textbook definition of a political cartel, using state resources to help special interests. It sure looks to me like Mr. Jorjani has been a key member of the cartel.”


Wyden at the hearing also pressed Interior Inspector General nominee Mark Greenblatt on specific steps he would take to maintain independence, if confirmed, and requested an answer in writing from Greenblatt within five days.


“Mr. Greenblatt, if you’re confirmed, you’re going to have your work cut out for you,” Wyden said. “I want to know what you’re going to do to maintain your independence and avoid an appointee like Mr. Jorjani attempting to interfere with your work.”


Click here to watch Wyden’s remarks.