Chairs Maloney, Connolly, and Rouda Issue Statement on Top Interior Department Official’s Ethics Violations
Washington, D.C. (May 29, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, and Rep. Harley Rouda, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment, issued the following statement in response to a report by the Inspector General of the Department of the Interior which found that Douglas Domenech, the Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs appointed by President Donald Trump, violated ethics rules by using his official position in an attempt to influence a senior official at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to hire a member of his family and by creating the appearance that he was promoting the business of another family member:
“One of the fundamental principles underlying our ethics laws is that a government official may not use his or her official position for personal gain or that of a family member. Domenech used his official title and position to try to help one of his relatives get a job in the Trump Administration. This is the second time he violated ethics rules—despite receiving training—so the Department’s claim that the matter is ‘resolved’ because he underwent more training is unacceptable. Secretary Bernhardt has testified that he takes ethics ‘extremely seriously’ and believes that ‘public trust is a public responsibility,’ despite being under investigation by the Inspector General for potential ethics violations himself. Secretary Bernhardt must not allow Domenech to remain in his position, but instead should take appropriate action and dismiss Domenech from federal service. We are also concerned that the senior official at the EPA involved in this case ignored six different requests to be interviewed by the Inspector General. The Oversight Committee will be following-up on these matters.”
Reports indicate that the EPA official involved was former Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson, who has a history of refusing to provide information to Inspectors General. His apparent refusal to participate in the investigation creates the appearance that Jackson may have been trying to help cover up what happened.
In 2019, the Inspector General issued a report that found Mr. Domenech violated ethics rules by meeting with his former employer, the Texas Public Policy Foundation.