Interior's Inner Battle

February 24, 1997

Interior's Inner Battle

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt is pushing for career employees to be appointed to vacant posts in his department, while the White House is pushing for political appointees to take the top spots, The Washington Post reported today.

People have been wondering why many of the Interior Department's top jobs remain unfilled, according to Al Kamen in his "In the Loop" column. The reason is that Babbitt and the politicians in the White House are at odds over who should be awarded the positions.

The Fish and Wildlife director's job has come down to career manager Jamie R. Clark--Babbitt's candidate--and Ken Smith, a natural resources adviser to Bill Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas--the politicos' choice.

The White House has also suggested Smith for assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, but Babbitt's pick for that job is Donald J. Barry, a counselor for the assistant secretary. Colorado Gov. Roy Romer also has proposed a contender: University of Colorado law professor David Getches.

The National Park Service also needs a director. Babbitt likes field director Robert G. Stanton, but rumor has it former White House deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes has his eye on the job.

The White House and Babbitt do agree on two appointments: Kathy Karpan as director of the Office of Surface Mining and Patrick Shea as head of the Bureau of Land Management.

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