Only Seven Emails From Bernhardt’s Desk Available Out of 27,375 Documents in Online Database

Source:  Western Values Project


Thwarting Transparency and Operating Behind Closed Doors Commonplace Under Trump Administration

Whitefish, MT – Only seven of the 27,375 documents released by the Interior Department publicly accessible in a new online database were written by Secretary David Bernhardt, suggesting that Interior is withholding key documents and emails written by Bernhardt. The apparent suppression of Bernhardt’s documents come as Interior is facing lawsuits and calls for investigations into the secret political review process of pending public records requests.

“Either Secretary Bernhardt doesn’t put anything in writing in an effort to cover up his corrupt conduct or Interior is refusing to follow public records laws. The simple question is: what is Bernhardt trying to hide? Whatever he is doing behind closed doors, the public has a legal right to certain materials and Interior has the duty to make that information public,” said Western Values Project Executive Director Chris Saeger.

Western Values Project (WVP) made these 27,375 documents available to the public on a searchable database on DocumentCloud here.


5 replies »

  1. Interior Department border deployments are mired in secrecy
    By Jessica Kutz on Jun 1, 2019

    The program continues to grow, but oversight is lacking. On May 15, it was reported by The Hill that 47 Interior Department officers were currently assigned to the border

    A separate FOIA request to the National Park Service shows that between May 2018, when the border surge program started, and mid-February of this year, the agency has had to spend more than $1.7 million on the deployments. This amount does not include money allocated to send officers from the Bureau of Land Management or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the Borderlands. While it might not seem like a significant amount compared to other federal expenses, it adds to the proposed 14 percent cut in funding to the Park Service outlined in the 2020 federal budget.



  2. As kids, we used to play a game called hide-and-seek and it was fun but when it comes to OUR American agencies it is NOT A GAME and these public servants need to be transparent in their words and actions – they work for you and me.

    The Foundation For Ethical Behavior
    Executive Order 12674
    Thomas Jefferson enunciated the basic principle of public service. “When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property.” This sentiment has been expressed by numerous others, over time becoming the familiar principle “Public service is a public trust.”
    To ensure public confidence in the integrity of the Federal Government, Executive Order 12674 (as amended) forms the framework for the ethical behavior required and expected of all Federal employees. As a condition of public service, you are expected to adhere to these fundamental principles of ethical behavior.


    • “The question now is what they’re afraid the public will find out.”

      Chair Grijalva: Newly Reported Political Interference in Interior Department Responses to Freedom of Information Act “Dangerous, Calls for Oversight”
      Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today released the following statement on this morning’s report in Roll Call that senior political officials at the Department of the Interior are reviewing responses to Freedom of Information Act requests and in some cases directing staff not to include certain material.

      “The Interior Department under President Trump has treated information as a political weapon, regardless of what our laws require or what democracy demands of its leaders. Controlling public awareness of what Secretary Bernhardt and his allies are doing, especially by blocking the legally required release of documents, goes beyond ‘troubling’ – it is dangerous, and it calls for oversight. Secretary Bernhardt shouldn’t allow for this kind of manipulation, and DOI’s top lawyer shouldn’t sign off on it. The question now is what they’re afraid the public will find out.”



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