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Chair Grijalva: Interior Secretary Bernhardt Should Fire Assistant Secretary Domenech After Second Watchdog Finding of Wrongdoing in Six Months

05.29.20

Tucson, Ariz. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) called on Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to fire Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech after the release of a new Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of Inspector General (OIG) report finding that Domenech improperly promoted family members for personal business and employment considerations at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The finding is the second time in six months that the watchdog has condemned Domenech, following a December 2019 finding that he had violated federal ethics regulations by improperly coordinating with a former employer. In his more than 10 years of federal service with different administrations, Domenech has received multiple ethics trainings outlining the relevant rules.

The new report is available at https://bit.ly/2yGguZw.

Today’s report, Grijalva said, shows that Bernhardt’s promise to improve DOI’s ethics standards is nothing more than a hollow gesture. The only way forward now, Grijalva said, is to take a concrete step that shows real consequences for misbehavior and dismiss Domenech from his position.

“When it comes to promoting ethics and preventing conflicts of interest, this administration has put up nothing but words, and at this point the damage to the Interior Department’s reputation is mounting by the day,” Grijalva said today. “Trump’s leadership team has created a culture of ignoring corruption instead of holding anyone accountable for repeated failures, and the American people are tired of it. Firing Mr. Domenech is the only serious course of action at this point – another round of ethics training is clearly just a waste of time, since it hasn’t sunk in by now.”

The new report finds that Domenech violated two federal regulations by using his official, taxpayer-funded email account “on several occasions” to help a family member get a job at the EPA and to promote another family member’s business to a senior EPA official.

In 2019, DOI rewrote ethics rules to allow Bernhardt to continue to receive eight free tickets to his own private box at each show from the privately funded Wolf Trap Foundation outside Washington, D.C., despite the OIG raising ethics concerns about the practice. The OIG found in today’s report that Domenech’s effort to push the EPA to hire his family member started with a conversation he and the senior EPA official had while sitting together using Bernhardt’s tickets.

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