Statement: Bernhardt Courts Industry Lobbyist, Ignores Corruption Concerns

Trump’s Most Conflicted Cabinet Member Interior Secretary Bernhardt Can’t Quit Special Interests

After Interior Secretary David Bernhardt did a question and answer session at the Western Governors’ Association, Western Values Project’s Executive Director Chris Saeger issued the following statement:

“Lobbyist turned-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt once again avoided accountability for the damage he’s done to our outdoor heritage in order to reward his special interest friends. The only people in that audience who should leave feeling like they’ll get what they want are the high-powered lobbyists who made the trip from Washington, D.C.”


Last week, 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. The Trump administration is now credited with the largest reduction to public land protections in U.S. history.

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 that will be located outside of the three-day meeting, directing 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.

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 cabinet member, with some 26-known special interest conflicts.

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