Questions remain after new evidence surfaced late last week showing nominee for the position of Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior David Bernhardt may have continued to lobby Congress and the White House after canceling his registration as a lobbyist. Despite these unanswered questions, Senate Republicans are expected to bring up a vote on his nomination today.
“David Bernhardt has offered no explanation for these emails which suggest he lied to Congress and violated the Lobbying Disclosure Act. Members of the Senate should do their job and demand answers before bringing his nomination up for a vote,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project. “While many questions remain one thing is clear, if confirmed, David Bernhardt would be nothing but a rubber stamp for the special interests who have lined his pockets.”
In a complaint filed late last week, Campaign for Accountability found that Mr. Bernhardt’s firm had withdrawn his lobbying registration for a California water district on Nov. 18, 2016, yet publically released documents show he continued to ‘advise’ the district on several matters after that date. Investigative journalists at Reveal news reported:
“According to emails made public this week by the Planning and Conservation League environmental group, Bernhardt was involved in political work for Westlands well into this year, even though he told the Senate that he ceased lobbying for Westlands on Nov. 18, 2016.”
In addition to potentially violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act, it appears Mr. Bernhardt failed to tell the truth in his response to the Senate questions for the record. When asked by Senator Maria Cantwell about his lobbying activity and work for the water district, Mr. Bernhardt stated, “I have not engaged in regulated lobbying on behalf of Westerlands Water District after November 18th, 2016.” The evidence suggests this simply isn’t true.
Last week, Western Values Project called on Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski and Ranking Member Senator Maria Cantwell to postpone the final confirmation vote until an investigation can be completed.