Ethics complaint filed against Biden Interior Sec. Haaland over lack of impartiality with regard to oil and gas drilling

August 18, 2023
Ben Marquis

In June, Biden administration Interior Sec. Deb Haaland announced that a 10-mile area around New Mexico's Chaco Canyon National Historic Park would henceforth be off limits to any leases for oil and gas production, including exploration, drilling, and extraction.

Now, in relation to that policy decision, a government watchdog group has filed an ethics complaint that questions Sec. Haaland's required impartiality on the matter, given a series of circumstances that reveal "apparent ethical breaches" on her part, according to Fox News.

That watchdog group's complaint follows a similar accusation of unethical behavior by Haaland over virtually the same thing that was put forward by a group of Republican lawmakers earlier in the year.

Interior Sec. Haaland is not impartial

Michael Chamberlain, the director of the Protect the Public's Trust watchdog organization, told Fox News, "Secretary Haaland apparently feels no compunction about participating in matters involving oil and gas leasing in Chaco Canyon despite past statements as well as her family’s -- and her own -- advocacy on the issue that reveals she is anything but impartial."

"The reasonable person who concluded she was impartial (the legal hurdle she had to clear to make the decision) could only exist as a figment of her imagination," he continued. "The fact is that nearly everyone familiar with this issue not only has reason to question her impartiality, but already has."

Chamberlain added sarcastically, "This represents just another in a continuing series of episodes in which policy has taken priority over ethics in the most ethical administration in history."

Watchdog group files ethics complaint

In a nine-page letter sent to the inspector general of the Interior Department, PTT called for a full investigation of "apparent ethics violations" by Sec. Haaland in relation to her actions with regard to Chaco Canyon and in light of prior statements she has made as well as her adult daughter's advocacy against oil and gas drilling and a film that both mother and daughter participated in that explicitly advocates against any fossil fuel development in that particular area of New Mexico.

The secretary's daughter, Somah Haaland, is a leading member of an anti-American leftist organization that, among other things, actively advocates, protests, and lobbies Congress and the executive branch against all fossil fuel production. She also narrated -- and her mother appeared in while a member of Congress -- a film that specifically opposed any additional fossil fuel development and production in and around the Chaco Canyon area.

The complaint went on to highlight an assortment of executive orders, regulations, and statutes that would require the secretary to recuse herself from matters in which a "reasonable" observer might question her impartiality, and also made note of the fact that Haaland appeared to have already been warned by her own department's "designated ethics official" about this exact issue and her readily apparent lack of impartiality.

"Secretary Haaland appears to have violated her ethical obligations by participating personally and substantially in decisions concerning oil and gas leasing near Chaco Canyon National History Park and misused her official position by using her status as Secretary of the Interior to participate in decisions in which a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts would have cause to question her impartiality," the complaint concluded with a request for an investigation of the matter.

Republican lawmakers investigating conflicts of interest

The PTT watchdog group is not alone in calling out Sec. Haaland for her apparent breach of ethics guidelines, however, as a group of Republican lawmakers led by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, issued a press release in June that called into question the secretary's apparent "conflicts of interest" with regard to her Chaco Canyon actions.

Included in that release was a six-page letter to Haaland and the chief ethics officer of the Interior Department that covered much of the same ground as the PTT complaint in terms of the secretary's own past statements about oil and gas drilling in the area, her daughter's advocacy on the issue, and their combined participation in the film.

One big difference, though, is that rather than ask the inspector general to launch an investigation, the committee essentially announced an investigation of its own and requested an assortment of relevant documents that would be pertinent to their probe of the secretary's lack of impartiality.

It remains to be seen if anything will come of the congressional investigation or the watchdog group's call for an inspector general investigation, but it seems clear as day that Sec. Haaland is most decidedly not impartial on the matter of oil and gas drilling, has serious conflicts of interest with regard to Chaco Canyon, and should most definitely be recused from any and all further matters involving fossil fuels, if not be compelled to resign or impeached and removed from office.

Latest News

© 2023 - Patriot News Alerts