Interior Department Watchdog Launches Ethics Probe of New Interior Secretary

The Interior Department’s inspector general has launched an ethics probe into the new Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt, The New York Times reports Monday. Bernhardt, whom the Senate confirmed last week, previously worked as an oil and agribusiness lobbyist. Drawing on the Times reporting—which accuses Bernhardt of advancing his former client’s policy, working as a lobbyist even after he was legally forbidden to do so, and moving to block the release of a report that showed a pesticide would harm an endangered species—eight Democratic congressmen and four ethics officials asked the Interior Department’s inspector general to open a formal investigation. In a Monday letter, the deputy inspector general of the Interior Department wrote that she’d obtained “a wide assortment of complainants alleging various conflicts of interest and other violations” and had “opened an investigation to address them.” Bernhardt has denied the allegations.