Matt_shuham_profile2019

Matt Shuham

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously associate editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

Articles by Matt

Did the head of the Department of Interior FOIA office lie to the Senate? That’s what Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) wants to know. Wyden on Tuesday wrote to the Justice Department and the Interior Department’s Inspector General asking them to examine whether Daniel Jorjani lied during a confirmation hearing about the role he and other political appointees played in reviewing public records requests.

Jorjani told the committee in May that he didn’t play a role in reviewing requests for public records, but months earlier, then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke put Jorjani in charge of the process. He also said there wasn’t a “heightened awareness” review to give political appointees a chance to sign-off on records requests that pertained to them — that also appeared to be untrue, later reporting showed.

Jorjani is currently the principal deputy solicitor at DOI, and is awaiting a Senate confirmation vote to become the department’s solicitor. He joined DOI in 2017 to lead a task force cutting regulations, and previously served as an adviser to various Koch brothers organizations.

Remember when then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was pictured courtside at a University of Kentucky basketball game sitting in coal baron Joseph W. Craft III’s seats? Well, Craft’s wife Kelly Craft is the Trump administration’s new ambassador to the United Nations. In total, the New York Times reported, the Craft couple donated $2 million to President Trump’s campaign and inaugural committees.

The roundabout intro isn’t to take away from Kelly Craft’s own accomplishments — she was Trump’s ambassador to Canada before the Senate voted, largely on party lines, to give her the promotion yesterday.

But Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have raised concerns about Craft’s conflicts of interest. While she committed to recusing herself from matters related to her husband’s company, they noted in a minority report yesterday, she also indicated during her confirmation hearing that she didn’t know the full extent of the company’s reach.

“In particular, she was unaware of Alliance Resources Partners’ holdings in oil and gas,” the Democrats wrote. “When asked whether her family held any oil and gas interests, Craft replied that, ‘I am not aware. I do not — I do not know what our interest [is].’ Yet Alliance Resources Partners has acquired multiple oil and gas interests over the last few years, and the company announced a $145 million agreement to acquire additional oil and gas interests just days after Ambassador Craft’s hearing.

The Democrats also pointed to Craft’s high rate of absenteeism as U.S. ambassador to Canada, and the fact that, “during her trips to Washington D.C., Craft stayed in the Trump International Hotel for at least 29 days.” 

Finally, a brief congratulations to the new acting director of the Bureau of Land Management, William Perry Pendley. The Washington Post noted Wednesday that, though Pendley’s new job will have him overseeing the country’s vast public lands, he’s not a huge fan of them. “The Founding Fathers intended all lands owned by the federal government to be sold,” he wrote in 2016. “Westerners know that only getting title to much of the land in the West will bring real change.”

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