With Senator Martha McSally scheduled to be back in Arizona until after Labor Day for congressional recess, Western Values Project – a Montana-based public lands watchdog nonprofit – seeks answers from her on six pressing questions regarding funding for the Land and Water Conservation fund and public lands in Arizona:
- Will Senator McSally address and meet with Arizonans during recess about her plans to get full and permanent funding for the LWCF passed in the Senate? Senator McSally left for congressional recess without passing full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund – America’s most important conservation tool. Senator McSally dedicatedher vote to permanently reauthorize the LWCF to the late Senator John McCain and stressed the importance of the fund in a recent congressional hearing. Despite her rhetoric, McSally is not a co-sponsor of the pending bipartisan legislation that would fully and permanently fund the LWCF.
- Will Senator McSally stand up to the Trump administration’s efforts to gut public land protections and demand full and permanent funding for the LWCF? McSally voted to confirm conflict-ridden Interior Secretary David Bernhardt — a former mega-lobbyist and a proponent of gutting the Land and Water Conservation Fund. McSally continues to supportPresident Trump, despite the administration’s historic reductions of public lands protections for special interests. President Trump’s budget for 2020 nearly zeroed out funding for the LWCF. In 2019, Trump’s budget slashed the program by 98 percent, and in 2018, by 84 percent. McSally has failed to stand up to the administration’s proposed budget that would nearly zero out the bank account for this critical public lands and parks program.
- Will Senator McSally become a co-sponsor of bipartisan legislation to fully and permanently fund the LWCF and demand that her senate leadership support and pass the legislation, which would help address Arizona’s public lands maintenance backlog? The LWCF hasinvested more than $243 million in the past half-century to protect Arizona’s iconic parks – including providing funding for popular national parks like the Grand Canyon – as well as opening up hunting, fishing and hiking access across the state. In addition to stressing the importance of the LWCF in a recent hearing, McSally pressed Interior and the U.S. Forest Service to address maintenance backlogs on Arizona’s public lands and parks. She has yet to clarify to Arizonans why she is not co-sponsoring legislation to provide funding for the LWCF that would help address maintenance backlogs on Arizona’s public lands.
- Will Senator McSally stand up for Arizona’s public lands by calling for the immediate removal of William Pendley as the acting director of the BLM? Interior Secretary Bernhardt recently hired and delegated the authority and duties of the director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to William Pendley without congressional approval. The BLM Director position requires Senate confirmation, but the Trump administration — skirting government accountability practices — has yet to nominate a director after two and a half years. Pendley — a lawyer and the former president of Mountain States Legal Foundation who has sued Interior numerous times on behalf of oil, gas and coal interests — is a staunch advocate for the transfer and sell-off of federal public lands. While other Western Senators have called Pendley’s appointment into question, Senator McSally has been silent.
- Will Senator McSally call on Interior and the BLM to address extractive industry and developer giveaways to that will negatively impact public lands, water and outdoor recreation opportunities in Arizona? The BLM recently proposed oil and gas leases sales up for auction in September on 4,200 acres of public land next to the Petrified Forest National Park in the Little Colorado River watershed. It was also reported that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was involved in a decision to allow a mega-housing development owned by Mike Ingram — CEO of the entity proposing the development and a prominent Trump donor — that ‘rolled’ a career Fish and Wildlife Services employee’s assessment. Senator McSally has not addressed either issue.
- What will Senator McSally do to address the lack of accountability and culture of corruption that has run amok under conflicted former mega-lobbyist Interior Secretary Bernhardt’s leadership? Just four days after Senator McSally voted to confirm David Bernhardt as the next Secretary of the Interior, Bernhardt became the subject of a multi-faceted ethics investigation. Six other Trump appointees at the Interior Department are also under investigation for ethics violations. One independent source counted more than a dozen scandals related to Bernhardt’s conduct at Interior. This may be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ethical lapses and misconduct by political appointees at Interior. As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, neither Senator McSally nor her colleagues have called for a hearing or an investigation into the conduct of Trump’s political appointees at Interior.