Todd Wynn, the Director of the Interior Department’s Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, is leaving the Interior. Wynn is the latest departure in a slew of political appointees, with at least two leaving within the last two weeks.
“We may not know why Wynn decided to leave Interior, but he joins the list of other former Interior appointees leaving while under investigation for ethical misconduct,” said Jayson O’Neill, Deputy Director of the Western Values Project. “While political swamp monsters like Wynn may be departing Interior, the public deserves any and all investigations into these corrupt officials be completed. Leaving Trump’s cabinet shouldn’t be a get out of jail free card for people who have done untold damage to public lands, government accountability efforts, and our sacred outdoor heritage.”
Todd Wynn’s departure accompanies several other political appointees leaving Interior – but Wynn’s raises additional questions. Wynn was one of six Interior political staff named in a complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center that led to an investigation from the Inspector General’s office. Wynn had allegedly contacted his prior employers, in violation of his ethics agreement. Former scandal-plagued Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is still under investigation by the Justice Department after resigning at the end of 2018 and becoming a D.C. lobbyist.
It’s not immediately clear where Wynn will land and if he will utilize the revolving door like other former Interior political appointees as well as former Sec. Zinke himself. The Washington Post is reporting that Joe Balash – who recently resigned – will join a foreign oil company poised to drill in Alaska and Vincent DeVito, who is still under investigation for ethics violations, joined an offshore oil corporation just weeks after his departure. Their new positions have raised questions about complying with Trump’s ethics order and federal post-employment laws.
Wynn’s resume is littered with conflicts of interest and extremist views. A Climate science denier and supporter of controversial land transfer policies, Wynn worked for Koch-backed groups and energy interests before coming to the Interior Department. He once claimed that “global warming could be a net benefit for the planet.” Wynn was the Director of the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force for the Koch-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Wynn’s departure means more vacancies within Interior – which already faces a staggering amount of empty positions. Alongside Wynn, top Interior appointee Joe Balash’s departure leaves many unanswered questions looming.