With the Associated Press reporting that the Interior Department’s Inspector General, the agency’s internal watchdog, concluded an investigation that found that Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech violated federal ethics laws, Western Values Project Director Jayson O’Neill issued the following statement:
How many strikes do you get in the Trump administration before you’re finally fired? This isn’t the first time Domenech ran afoul of federal laws that public officials are required to adhere to yet here we are again. If President Trump truly wants to fulfill his promise to drain the swamp, then Domenech should be fired immediately.”
Interior’s internal watchdog report concluded that Domenech violated the law by using public office for private gain after securing a job for a family member at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and that he had violated another law to advance the business of another family member.
Through his official government email account, Domenech communicated with an EPA senior official on several occasions regarding a family member’s EPA job application, a violation of 5 C.F.R. § 2635.702 and 5 C.F.R. § 2635.702(a), “Use of Public Office for Private Gain.” Domenech also provided a family member’s business name and website to the same EPA senior official in an email, a violation of 5 C.F.R. § 2635.101(b)(14), the federal regulation requiring employees to avoid any actions creating the appearance of violating the law or federal ethical standards.
This isn’t the first time an investigation found that Domenech, a close personal friend of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, violated ethics laws. A report released late last year by the internal watchdog found that he violated federal rules in April 2017 when he met with representatives from his former employer, the oil-fuel rightwing Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). TPPF has also been linked to fueling reopening protests in Texas.
At the time, according to reporting by E&E News, the department said that “Domenech self-reported this appearance issue in 2018 to Department ethics officials and has subsequently received additional guidance and ethics training.” Domenech told investigators he didn’t intend to err. “I shouldn’t have done it,” Domenech said, “but I wasn’t thinking that I was — I was violating any ethics rule by doing that.”
Domenech has nearly a decade of experience as a political appointee at the Interior Department under two administrations and has received ethics training multiple times according to the investigation.
Learn more about Doug Domenech at Western Values Project’s Department of Influence website, which documents the revolving-door between industry and political appointees at the Interior Department.