Watchdog Files Inspector General Complaint Over Possible Ethics Violation Involving ANWR Leasing Plan in Joe Biden’s Interior Department

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Danielle Brigida, USFWS

A nonpartisan government watchdog filed a complaint with the Inspector General (IG) on Tuesday, alleging a possible ethics violation involving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) leasing plan in President Joe Biden’s Department of the Interior (DOI)

Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT), which is dedicated to promoting ethics in government, filed an ethics complaint alleging that Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Laura Daniel-Davis may have improperly participated in matters relating to the oil and gas program in the ANWR — which potentially violates federal ethics laws and the Biden Ethics Pledge.

PPT acknowledged that oil and gas extraction in ANWR — also known as the Coastal Plain of Alaska — has been one of the most controversial energy issues for nearly 40 years and has been opposed by environmental and conservation organizations. One of the environmental and conservation groups that opposed the extraction in the area happened to be the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), where Daniel-Davis previously worked before she joined the Biden administration.

The complaint from PPT explained that the organization believes Davis-Daniels violated federal ethics laws and the Biden Ethics Pledge because NWF, where she served as Chief of Policy and Advocacy, was part of a lawsuit challenging aspects of the program such as an August 2020 leasing plan, proposed seismic permits, and actual leases offered in January 2021.

PPT said Davis-Daniels’ time at NWF raised questions and would like the Inspector General to investigate “whether Laura Daniel-Davis has effectively ‘switched sides’ in the effort to advance the litigation objectives of her former employer.”

The complaint stated:

Documents obtained by PPT show that Ms. Daniel-Davis participated personally and substantially in decisions relating to the suspension of activities related to the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Lease Program. Ms. Daniel-Davis’ former employer was a party to a lawsuit challenging the Coastal Plain National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) analysis, including on grounds similar to those adopted by the Department in suspending activities related to the Coastal Plain program. At minimum, this connection creates a reasonable appearance of impropriety. At worst, it suggests that Ms. Daniel-Davis may have participated personally and substantially in a particular matter in which her former employer was an interested party.

This warrants immediate investigation to determine whether Ms. Daniel-Davis improperly participated in a particular matter involving her former employer.

Federal conflict of interest regulations the complaint referenced were:

Where an employee knows that a particular matter involving specific parties is likely to have a direct and predictable effect on the financial interest of a member of his household, or knows that a person with whom he has a covered relationship is or represents a party to such matter, and where the employee determines that the circumstances would cause a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts to question his impartiality in the matter, the employee should not participate in the matter unless he has informed the agency designee of the appearance problem and received authorization from the agency designee in accordance with paragraph (d) of this section.

PPT Director Michael Chamberlain said, “On an issue that has been such a huge magnet for controversy, one would think the Department of the Interior would want to make sure that all the t’s were crossed and the i’s dotted.”

Chamberlain continued to explain that the recent IG report revealing an ethics violation in the DOI’s top leadership — in addition to what his organization uncovered — has shown that “ethics obligations [do] not appear to be at the top of the priority list at Secretary Haaland’s Department.” and that it is “little wonder the American public’s trust in government is at an all-time low.”

Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at or follow him on Twitter @JacobMBliss and Truth Social @JacobBliss.


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