Rep. Mary Peltola of Alaska has refused to sign a letter led by the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources and sent to U.S. Department of the Interior Sec. Deb Haaland, demanding answers about Haaland’s conflicts of interest and apparent ethical violations.
The letter by Chair Rep. Bruce Westerman of Arkansas and other committee members asks for documents from Haaland, including all relevant communications between her and her radical activist daughter, who is part of the Pueblo Action Alliance, a group based in New Mexico, and Haaland’s husband, who is also involved in anti-fossil fuel activism.
Peltola is an ally of Haaland, which explains her refusal to sign the letter.
Pueblo Action Alliance, at the heart of this probe, champions the deconstruction of America’s economic and political systems and has led numerous protests and lobbying campaigns across the nation.
The committee’s interest was piqued by the department’s recent decision about mineral withdrawal around the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
The committee scrutinized Secretary Haaland’s interactions with PAA leaders since she became Secretary of the Interior, especially in relation to their opposition to oil and gas production on federal lands, which falls under the Interior’s management.
Attention was also directed towards Haaland’s family connections to the Pueblo Action Alliance.
Haaland’s daughter, Somah Haaland, has been employed by the group since 2020, around the same time Deb Haaland was becoming President Joe Biden’s Interior Secretary. Somah took part in a Pueblo Action Alliance’s lobbying trip to the U.S. Capitol in 2022, advocating for legislation that sought to ban lease sales for oil and gas development on federal land.
Somah has also represented Pueblo Action Alliance at several events, including a “People vs. Fossil Fuels” rally. The committee wants to see what the ongoing advocacy relationship is between Haaland and Haaland, including all documents and communications on oil, gas, minerals and leasing on federal lands, Pueblo Action Alliance, Laguna Development Corporation, the Pueblo of Laguna, the People vs. Fossil Fuels protest in Washington in 2021, the withdrawal of federal lands from oil and gas leasing, and efforts to influence members of Congress or federal officials.
The committee letter highlighted Secretary Haaland’s husband, Skip Sayre, who is a consultant for the Laguna Development Corporation, the business arm of the Pueblo of Laguna, a federally recognized tribal entity that can access funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a branch of the Department of Interior.
The connections raise concerns about possible conflicts of interest and the degree to which Secretary Haaland’s personal and familial ties could sway her decision-making in her role as head of the department.
As of now, there has been no public response from Secretary Haaland’s office to the committee’s letter.
However, Power the Future, a pro-energy advocacy group, responded to the letter with a statement:
“For more than two years, the Biden Administration has acted without any serious congressional oversight and we have all suffered the disastrous consequences,” said Daniel Turner, founder and executive director of Power the Future.
“Secretary Haaland’s relentless crusade against American energy producers knows no limits, and the public deserves to know about any financial connections she stood to gain from her family employment. Chairman Westerman deserves great credit for this fact-finding mission into potential influence peddling driving the anti-energy agenda. We are hopeful other congressional committees will follow suit and shed more light on those pulling the strings behind the scenes of the Biden Administration,” Turner wrote.