Fresh off a Republican “big donor retreat” in Chicago for President Trump’s reelection campaign, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt will be keynoting the Western Governors’ Association annual meeting in Vail, Colorado this afternoon. To remind attendees and Western governors of Bernhardt’s real agenda – that he has already been tapped by special interests – Western Values Project commissioned a mobile billboard to be located outside of the three-day meeting.
The mobile billboard, which can be viewed here, directs governors and meeting attendees to learn more about the culture of corruption run amok at Interior under the Trump administration and Secretary Bernhardt by going to the Department of Influence website. The website documents the revolving-door between special interest lobbyists and political appointees at Interior.
“Western governors need to step up to the plate and hold the Trump administration and Bernhardt accountable for the lasting damage being done to the West’s at the behest of lobbyists, industry and special interests. Secretary Bernhardt will be busy lobbying Western governors to help out his former clients, but they won’t buy what he’s selling if they value our public lands,” said Chris Saeger, executive director of the Western Values Project.
Two of Bernhardt’s former colleagues from Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Sarah Mercer and Mike Stratton, are slated to be at the meeting. Four employees of oil corporations who are members of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), a former client of Bernhardt’s, are also registered. IPAA member employees scheduled to attend include Bill Cadman from Whiting Petroleum Corporation, Kristen Lingley from Encana Oil & Gas Inc., Shane Schulz from QEP Resources, and Cam Toohey from Shell Oil Company. Bernhardt is recused from particular matters involving his former lobby firm and IPAA until August 3, 2019.
Just four days after his Senate confirmation, Bernhardt became the subject of a multi-faceted investigation for multiple ethics violations. Bernhardt is Trump’s most conflicted member, with some 26-known special interest conflicts. Western Values Project released a memo detailing the negative impacts of the policies and actions taken by Secretary Bernhardt’s Interior Department on Western states.