President Trump’s Interior Secretary David Bernhardt issued the thirty-second reiteration of the memo well into Trump’s third year in office that will keep unconfirmable anti-public lands zealot William Pendley atop the Bureau of Land Management and deputy director David Vela in charge of the National Park Service. But new documents obtained by Western Values Project find Pendley’s recusal documents raise serious red flags. The order also extends the authority of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Assistant Secretary – Land and Minerals Management, and Special Trustee for American Indians’ posts.
“The bottom line is anti-public lands zealot William Perry Pendley is simply unconfirmable. And since he is too extreme to pass muster in this Senate, it’s time for the Trump administration to end this unconstitutional charade and finally reject him,” said Jayson O’Neill, Western Values Project Director. “Pendley already has a laundry list of conflicts, extremist views, and an industry-favored bent that should have disqualified him from government employment but he just squatted down on his spurs with these discrepancies despite his already terrible track record.”
Earlier this week, two public lands groups threatened to file suit in order to prevent the Trump administration from circumventing U.S. Constitutional obligations and illegally applying the Federal Vacancies and Reform Act to install non-Senate confirmed, unqualified, conflicted zealots and extremists across his administration.
But Pendley’s own baggage and inability to do his job might make him a top candidate for Trump’s purported 2020 purge list. In addition to Pendley’s 57 known conflicts of interest, his recusal documents show a troubling pattern that does not comply with President Trump’s two-year ethics pledge that all political appointees are required to adhere to.
Pendley’s boss, Interior Secretary Bernhardt, had a similar situation that found him under investigation by Interior’s Inspector General. However, Pendley seems to have ignored a directive by top ethics official Scott De La Vega that would not allow him to participate in particular matters with the right-wing Property Rights Foundation Of America group in addition to misapplying a provision of the president’s executive order on ethics regarding local governments.
Bureau Of Land Management Deputy Director William Perry Pendley’s Ethics Recusal Arrangement Sparks Additional Questions About His Outside Interests
When Joining The Bureau Of Land Management, William Perry Pendley Signed An Ethics Pledge To Recuse Himself From DOI Issues Involving 57 Entities And Individuals.
William Perry Pendley Has A “Covered Relationship” With Various Anti-Environment And Anti-Public Lands Organizations That Would Create Conflicts Of Interest With His Position At BLM. “I understand that I have a “covered relationship” with the Mountain States Legal Foundation, the clients of Mountain States Legal Foundation, the Pendley Law Finn, the Property Rights Foundation of America, the Washington Examiner, Regnery Publishing, and the nonprofit organizations to whom my spouse provides legal services. Accordingly, I have been. advised that I may not participate in any particular matter involving any of these parties unless I have informed the DEO and received written authorization from the DEO to participate in the matter.” [Pendley Ethics Recusals & Screening Arrangement, page 2, accessed 04/20/20]
Pendley’s Ethics Pledge Requires He Recuse Himself For 2 Years From The Date Of His Appointment From Issues Involving His Former Clients Or Employers. “I will not for a period of 2 years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or fonner clients, including regulations and contracts.” [Pendley Ethics Recusals & Screening Arrangement, page 13, accessed 04/20/20]
Yet Pendley’s List Of Recusals Makes Exceptions Without Explanation For Select Organizations, Including Washington Examiner and Right-Wing Group.
William Perry Pendley Is Recused From Matters With The Washington Examiner For 1 Year After His Appointment, Rather Than The Typical 2 Years. “For ONE (1) Year – Do not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter(s) involving specific parties that are directly and substantially related to the Washington Examiner.” [Pendley Ethics Recusals & Screening Arrangement, page 25, accessed 04/20/20]
Pendley Is Recused From The Property Rights Foundation Of America For Only 3 Months After His Appointment Despite A 1 Year Recommendation From Department Of Ethics Director Scott De La Vega. “UNTIL OCTOBER 20, 2019 – Do not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter(s) involving specific parties that are directly and substantially related to the Property Rights Foundation of America.” [Pendley Ethics Recusals & Screening Arrangement, page 25, accessed 04/20/20]
William Perry Pendley Is Barred From Participating “Personally And Substantially” In Matter Related To The Pendley Law Group At All Times During His Tenure As Opposed To The Standard 2 Years. “Do not participate personally and substantially in particular matter(s) involving specific parties that are directly and substantially related to the Pendley Law Group.” [Pendley Ethics Recusals & Screening Arrangement, page 25, accessed 04/20/20]
5 State And Local Governments Are Excluded From William Perry Pendley’s 2-Year Recusals, Citing A Loophole In Trump’s Executive Order On Ethics. “For the purposes of paragraph 6 of the Ethics Pledge I have been advised by the DEO that certain of my former clients listed below qualify as an agency or entity of Federal, State, or local government, or Native American tribe: Caribou County, Idaho; Garfield County, Utah; Kane County, Utah; San Juan County, Utah; Town of Taos, New Mexico. As such, it is my understanding that these entities are excluded from the two-year requirement.” [Pendley Ethics Recusals & Screening Arrangement, page 4, accessed 04/20/20]
A Current Bernhardt Advisor With Connections To Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck Was Assigned To Handle Matters Related To Organizations Or People On Pendley’s Long Recusal List.
William Perry Pendley’s Screener, Tasked With Identifying And Responding To Potential Conflicts Of Interests And Ethics Violations, Is David Bernhardt Advisor Matthew Dermody. “All inquiries or comments involving the limitations on my personal and substantial participation in particular matters discussed in this memorandum or the entities and matters listed on Attachment C should be directed to my screener, Matthew Dermody, without my knowledge or involvement until after my recusal period ends on July 15, 2021.” [Pendley Ethics Recusals & Screening Arrangement, page 6, accessed 04/20/20]
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck Has Continually Capitalized On Insider Connections To The Interior Department During Bernhardt’s Reign As Secretary. “Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck (BHFS) has topped the lobbying revenue ranking for the second quarter of 2019, with $2.7 million in revenue coming from lobbying Interior this year alone, according to data compiled from the Lobbying Disclosure Act database. Previous analysis by the Washington Post found Bernhardt’s former lobby firm has nearly quadrupled their business lobbying Interior since his confirmation in 2017.” [Western Values Project, 08/01/19]