Interior Inspector General Emerges From Email Kerfuffle With Job Intact

EMIGRANT,MT-OCTOBER, 08: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signs a Public Lands Order at a ceremony in Emigrant, MT on October 08, 2018. The Public Lands Order withdraws 30,000 acres of public land from hard rock mining surrounding two proposed gold mines north of Yellowstone National Park for 20 years. The gold mining is opposed by local businesses in Paradise Valley along the Yellowstone River just north of Yellowstone National Park. (Photo by William Campbell-Corbis via Getty Images)
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Mary Kendall, the longtime acting inspector general for the Interior Department, has emerged from the dust-up catalyzed by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s preemptory email with her job intact, according to a Thursday Bloomberg report. 

In an October 12 email, Carson sent out a farewell email for Suzanne Tufts, a political appointee working at HUD, saying that she would be replacing Kendall, who has aggressively investigated alleged ethics breaches by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

The email was reportedly news to Kendall and others in the DOI IG office, who said that they hadn’t heard anything about personnel changes.

Heather Swift, a senior adviser to Zinke, pushed back against the implications that Tufts was intended to be moved to give Zinke cover from the investigations. She said in an email to reporters:

“This is a classic example of the media jumping to conclusions and reporting before all facts are known. The facts are:

  1. Mary Kendall is still the Deputy Inspector General at the Department of the Interior.
  2. Ms. Tufts is not employed by the Department and no decision was ever made to move her to Interior.
  3. HUD sent out an email that had false information in it.
  4. Only the White House is able to reassign senate confirmed officials.

Any anonymous claims from “White House officials” that the Department blindsided them are absolutely false. Ms. Tufts was referred to the Department by the White House as a potential candidate for a position in the Inspector General’s office. At the end of the day, she was not offered a job at Interior.”

It is unclear why Tufts would be considered for the Inspector General’s office at all, as she seems to have very little pertinent experience.

Each layer of the story is fishier than the last — read TPM’s rundown here.

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