Is the Deputy Secretary at Interior doing favors for former clients?

BLM reverses ruling to clear major hurdle for Cadiz water project

Last Friday, the Bureau of the Land Management announced a change of administrative opinion that could make millions for a recent client of former lobbyist and current Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt.

Since 1992, Cadiz, Inc. has been trying to pump desert groundwater from Cadiz Valley in the Mojave Desert to Los Angeles. While at the Washington, D.C. firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Shreck LLP, Bernhardt lobbied directly for Cadiz as they attempted to clear the way for the controversial project to go through. Bernhardt’s former firm stands to gain 200,000 shares in Cadiz, Inc. stock should the project be completed, estimated to be worth over $2.5 million.

“This about-face from BLM raises serious questions about the involvement of Deputy Secretary Bernhardt, who has a troubling track record of hiding the truth about his work for clients,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project. “We warned officials that Bernhardt would do just this if confirmed – pave the way for his former clients and colleagues to make millions. This all to convenient change in policy calls for an immediate investigation and public disclosure of internal documents related to the decision.”

Bernhardt was the subject of an ethics complaint filed after documents were released showing he continued to work as a lobbyist after withdrawing his lobbying registration.

Western Values Project (WVP) intends to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for any communications between Deputy Secretary Bernhardt and Cadiz, Inc. since his confirmation in July.

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