Today, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was supposed to sit-down for an interview at the annual Society for Environmental Journalist conference, but pulled out for unknown reasons, claiming a “travel scheduling conflict.” Bernhardt’s publicly available calendar does not provide any details on what conflict forced him to cancel at the last minute.
“The former mega-lobbyist turned-Interior Secretary Bernhardt bailing on an event where he’d have to answer critical questions about the Trump administration’s historic erosion of America’s outdoor heritage is no surprise. He’s afraid to answer to the corruption permeating through the agency and how he’s turned Interior into his own personal lobby shop,” said Western Values Project Deputy Director Jayson O’Neill.
Secretary Bernhardt rarely sits down with the press, with Interior’s most recent media advisory dating back to July 2017. While Secretary Bernhardt recently visited Montana to attend a canned event, several corruption questions went unanswered, including new revelations that he has used his role within Interior to ensure favors for his former lobbying client, the Westlands Water District.
This interview was a unique opportunity to hear from the Secretary himself to answer questions about these allegations, as well as the array of ethics investigations facing Interior, the controversial Bureau of Land Management (BLM) move, the Trump administration’s historic rollback of public land protections for special interests, or installing land transfer enthusiasts and anti-public land zealots to key-positions without Senate-confirmation like acting Director of the BLM, William Pendley — who has received widespread criticism.
In Secretary Bernhardt’s absence, acting BLM Director William Pendley will step in. Pendley has faced questions about his own conflicts of interest, numerous controversies, controversial past positions, and a call by 12 U.S. Senators for his immediate removal.