Watchdog Investigates Possible Influence Peddling from Gifts at Deb Haaland’s Wedding

In this March 5, 2020, file photo Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., Native American Caucus co-chair, speaks to reporters about the 2020 Census on Capitol Hill in Washington. President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Haaland as interior secretary. The historic pick would make her the first Native American to lead the …
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

An ethics watchdog group launched an investigation into possible ethical violations from improper gift-giving and influence-peddling at the wedding of Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Office of the Solicitor FOIA Office to uncover any “Records relating to Secretary Haaland’s wedding, including potential attendance by prohibited sources and improperly reported gifts.”

“While we offer our congratulations to the Secretary, we remain committed to carrying out our mission,” PPT wrote in a press release. “Which requires us to protect the public’s trust that senior government officials are carrying out their duties in an objective, transparent and compliant manner.”

The ethics watchdog highlighted a New York Times article that outlined how officials cannot retain any gifts during their time in office worth more than $390. PPT added:

Federal regulations, as summarized by DOI’s gift guidance, prohibit Secretary Haaland from accepting gifts of more than $20 from prohibited sources, which include any person seeking official action with DOI, doing business or seeking to do business with DOI, conducting activities regulated by DOI, or having interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the Secretary’s official duties. Additionally, under the Constitution, it is illegal for an American to accept a gift from a foreign government. These restrictions are imputed to Secretary Haaland’s spouse.

Director of Protect the Public’s Trust, Michael Chamberlain, told Breitbart News, “While Secretary Haaland’s wedding is certainly an occasion for celebration, it unfortunately presents an opportunity for those so inclined to sidestep the rules that protect the interests of the American public.” He added:

The onus is on the Secretary and the Department she has been charged to lead to not only maintain compliance but be able to demonstrate that to the American public. Especially considering the documented lack of compliance with public health restrictions by participants and guests at the wedding, it’s even more vital for the Department to break with their tendencies during the Haaland era and provide the utmost transparency.

The watchdog added that Haaland has let her Native American heritage play a major role in her tenure while at the Interior Department. Additionally noted while heading the department, she is in charge of the federal agency’s billions of dollars and numerous Trust responsibilities.

She is also in charge of “regulatory oversight of hundreds of Tribal governments, the Secretary may have placed herself in a compromising situation if she failed to consult with ethics officials every step of the way.”

This is why PPT believes the public should know if Haaland “has improperly solicited or received gifts (through invitation or directly) from ‘prohibited sources’ or foreign governments and to what extent she may have used government resources to do it.”

Follow Jacob Bliss on Twitter @jacobmbliss.

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