Trump’s Interior Department stacked an advisory committee for Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah with ranchers and politicians who opposed former President Barack Obama creating the 1.35-million acres of protected land and welcomed Trump shrinking it by 85%.
Democracy Forward, a nonprofit founded in 2017, asked the Inspector General of the Interior Department to investigate whether Secretary David Bernhardt violated federal law by packing the 15-person committee with opponents of the monument.
“The Bears Ears committee was designed to protect a treasure of the American West and stacking it with opponents of the monument could violate federal law,” said Travis Annatoyn, an attorney for Democracy Forward.
Committees are supposed to be fairly balanced and not unduly influenced by the financial interests of its members.
Under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, signed by President Richard Nixon in 1972, committees are supposed to be fairly balanced and not unduly influenced by the financial interests of its members.
But Bernhardt appointed at least three people who have financial conflicts of interest. Cattle rancher and San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams has a permit to graze his cattle on Bureau of Land Management land.
Rancher Zeb Dalton also has grazing rights. Rancher Gail Johnson’s husband, Sandy Johnson, filed paperwork to join one of the lawsuits over Bears Ears, saying restoring Bears Ears to its original size “would threaten my business and personal interests.”
Bears Ears, named after twin peaks that look like the ears of a bear, was once the second-largest national monument in the lower 48 states. Five native American tribes urged Obama to create the monument which included about 9,000 recorded archaeological sites, including petroglyphs, woven cloth, human remains and ancient roads.
But another committee member, Jami Bayles, of Blanding, Utah, was offended by the new monument.
‘Nothing But a Punishment’
“Monuments should be an honor to an area, and we feel like this one is nothing but a punishment,” Bayles said.
Judges in federal lawsuits have faulted or upheld inquiries into other committees formed by the Trump Interior Department.
In August, federal judge Donald Malloy ruled that Trump unlawfully formed the Royalty Policy Committee, which was stacked with fossil-fuel representatives and blocked the Interior Department from using the committee’s recommendations.
In September, federal judge Alison Nathan rejected the Trump administration’s efforts to dismiss a lawsuit about the Interior Department’s trophy hunting council. That committee, the International Wildlife Conservation Council, includes four people – gun company executive Peter Horn, lawyer Chris Hudson, Arizona developer Mike Ingram and TV show personality Keith Mark – who were involved in a 2016 fundraiser advertising access to Trump for contributions of $500,000 or more.
Former National Rifle Association lobbyist Ben Cassidy was the contact person at the Interior Department for the trophy committee. Cassidy left in July while his conduct was part of a formal ethics department probe and joined Safari Club International, a trophy hunting advocacy group with close ties to the Trump administration.
‘Stop lying’: Experts and observers discredit Trump attorney’s impeachment defense with readily available facts
After three days of House impeachment managers’ brilliant prosecution of President Donald Trump – and “prebuttal” of the arguments the president’s team was expected to make – White House attorneys Saturday morning began their defense of President Trump.
It’s not going well.
Deputy White House Counsel Mike Purpura (photo) has been making the majority of today’s arguments – they have decided that not enough people will be watching on TV so Saturday’s defense will last not eight but just two hours.
Nancy Pelosi missed a big opportunity in impeachment — but she still has time to fix it
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has her reasons for limiting her impeachment articles to offenses stemming from the abuses and violations related to Ukraine. Unfortunately, she declined to pursue a broader impeachment approach that recognizes multiple provable, serious violations of the Constitution. Speaker Pelosi overruled Chairs of Committees, including the Judiciary Committee, and other senior lawmakers who wanted to forward to the Senate a broader array of impeachable offenses.
Having lost four of the last five House elections to the worst Republican Party in history, Speaker Pelosi remains cautious. She is overly worried about the conservative Democrats who won congressional seats in 2018 in Republican, pro-Trump districts. Endangering their seats might, Pelosi fears, lead to the loss of the House in 2020 and, more immediately, risk not having the votes in the House to pass additional impeachable offenses.
Scrambling Trump promises to ‘save’ social security after threatening to cut it — but it’s seniors who will pay for his recklessness
It used to be said that cutting Social Security was politics’ third rail, a fatal taking of positions.
If that’s still true, you wouldn’t know it from the emerging attention that cutting Social Security is getting.
Indeed, look at Trump’s handling of Social Security, and you may find real flaws in the armor of a Best-of-All-Time economy cloak that Trump tries to wear.
Even as Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden mix it up over whether Biden did or did not say something supportive about a Republican plan in 2008 by then-Rep. Paul D. Ryan for spending reductions, here comes Donald Trump to promise that he is open to revamping entitlement programs towards the end of the year.