DRAINING THE SWAMP?
As many as 50 senior bureaucrats at the Department of Interior are being shuffled into other roles than the ones they had under President Barack Obama, according to The Washington Post. Some of them have ties to work that impacts Alaska.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is reassigning top officials quickly, signaling a reorganization of the department that oversees 20 percent of land in the United States and about 60 percent of the land in Alaska.
Reassigning members of what is known as the “Senior Executive Service” must wait, by law, until Zinke is in office for 120 days, which will be June 28.
However, according to the Post, at least 36 Interior officials already received their letters telling them of their job change on Thursday, which means they’ll be moving to new jobs on the first legally possible day.
These officers are protected by a union, which has been watching the reassignments carefully, looking for error or political motive. These permanent class bureaucrats cannot be fired without cause and due process; they can only be moved around.
ARCTIC POLICY EXPERT TO MOVE
One federal bureaucrat being reassigned is Joel Clement, the director of the Office of Policy Analysis, where he advises on issues relating to the Arctic, among other topics.
His biography says he attended Evergreen State College in Washington state, and is a forest canopy biologist who has worked on climate change adaptation strategies.
Evergreen is the site where last week a gang of masked “Antifa” protestors confronted a pro-free speech rally and slashed the tires of Trump supporters. The college has been embroiled in controversy after white professors were ordered off campus for a “Day Without Whites” event. The taxpayer-supported college is a center of leftist radicalism.
It is from this intellectual and political framework that Clement launched his environmental career.
In 2012 Clement was assigned to lead a federal interagency initiative to develop an “Arctic landscape-scale management framework that will more effectively integrate cultural, ecological, and economic objectives in the face of rapid climate change.” More of his Integrated Arctic Management work here.
Clement has been providing advice and analysis for the Obama White House and two past Interior Secretaries — Sally Jewell and Ken Salazar. Clement is being reassigned to the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, which receives royalty payments from resource extraction.
Five senior officials of the Fish and Wildlife Service are also among those being reassigned, and there are transfers from the Bureau of Land Management.
Bryan Arroyo, the assistant director for International Affairs, is being moved.
Arroyo is not without controversy. Last year, a Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General investigated him and the resulting report said Arroyo’s actions “appear to violate [federal regulations], which prohibit federal employees from giving preferential treatment to private organizations or individuals.”
He was said to have given preferential treatment for a contract to a public relations firm, Partner-Impact. The contract amount was $256,100 and was to create a campaign to reduce demand for illegal wildlife products.
The report said Arroyo was introduced to Partner-Impact “by an attorney he knew who had facilitated over $700,000 in donations to FWS-related initiatives, and that this attorney influenced Arroyo to award funds to Partner-Impact.” No action was taken against Arroyo for the violation, as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia declined to prosecute him, giving no explanation for the decision.
Partner-Impact didn’t deliver the contract’s objectives, so Arroyo awarded another $300,000 to the company to finish the job, but after an investigation ensued, he cancelled the additional award.
In other moves, Fish and Wildlife’s chief of law enforcement, Bill Woody, will be sent to BLM.
Bureau of Indian Affairs Director Weldon “Bruce” Loudermilk, and acting assistant secretary of Indian affairs Michael S. Black are being reassigned, along with acting special trustee for American Indians Debra L. DuMontier, according to the Post.
Loudermilk is a longtime federal employee with ties to Indian tribes and who is well-known by Alaska Native leaders.
A member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana, he served as the BIA Regional Director for Alaska from 2014 to November of 2016, when he was named Director of BIA in the closing days of the Obama Administration.
When Loudermilk was moved to the directorship, former Director Michael Black was tucked into his senior advisor role by Sec. Sally Jewell. It was a soft landing during a time when many bureaucrats were seeking a lower profile in light of a changing White House philosophy.
Black, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, was appointed BIA Director in 2010 and was the longest-serving director in BIA history, according to Jewell. He led BIA’s successful effort to return 500,000 acres of tribe land into to reservation, or “trust status,” giving ownership of the land to the federal government. His work included creating reservation land in Alaska, in a case that Gov. Bill Walker refused to defend on the state’s behalf.
The Post reports that over 20 percent of the National Park Service leaders are being reassigned.
In related news, last week Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s chief of staff, Susanne Fleek-Green, announced she had been appointed to become the superintendent of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve for the National Park Service.
Fleek-Green managed Berkowitz’s mayoral campaign and was formerly employed by Sen. Mark Begich as Alaska state director.
She also worked for Begich when he was mayor in the Anchorage Economic and Community Development Office. A former climate change program officer for the Alaska Conservation Foundation, she worked for Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the American Farmland Trust, and the U.S. Department of Interior. She served on the board of the Alaska Conservation Alliance.
Fleek-Green is a University of California, Berkeley graduate, with a degree in political economics and a master’s degree in public policy.