Joel Clement was among the first three dozen to be reassigned in the Department of Interior after Donald Trump became president. Clement was considered part of the “swamp” that was obstructing progress in the nation; he was not aligned with what the president had promised the nation.
Clement was reassigned from being a climate change expert to counting money coming into the Interior Department from oil royalties.
He complained. Loudly and publicly. He threatened.
After all, Clement was part of the Senior Executive Service, a class of federal workers who are hard to fire. Many of them end up feeling entitled to the jobs they have. These are federal workers who also can’t be fired without cause, and they have union protection.
Reassigning members of what is known as the SES had to wait, by law, until Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had been in office for 120 days. Clement and 35 other Interior officials were reassigned on June 28 — 120 days to the day.
This week, Clement had enough of bean counting. He quit his federal job, and sent his blistering resignation letter to the Huffington Post. In it, he calls out Zinke and Trump for “poor leadership” and continues to threaten to make their lives miserable.
“Retaliating against civil servants for raising health and safety concerns is unlawful, but there are many items to add to your resume of failure,” Clement blasted in his letter Zinke, a letter any future potential employer might want to review.
Those failures, Clement said, include “muzzling scientists and policy experts,” conducting an “arbitrary and sloppy review of our treasured National Monuments,” and for altering an Obama-Jewell-era plan for the conserving the greater sage grouse.
“Secretary Zinke, your agenda profoundly undermines the [Interior Department’s] mission and betrays the American people,” wrote Clement, who had worked for Interior seven years. He ended his letter by encouraging Interior Department employees to “resist when necessary.”
KIDS, DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME
Clement’s letter, shown below, is a textbook case of what not to do when leaving a job — and is a good indication of why he was not seen as a good fit for the Zinke team:
Secretary Zinke: It is well known that you, Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt, and President Trump are shackled to special interests such as oil, gas, and mining. You are unwilling to lead on climate change, and cannot be trusted with our nation’s natural resources. – Joel Clement