HUD's Suzanne Israel Tufts is reportedly going to replace the current acting IG at Interior.

HUD's Suzanne Israel Tufts is reportedly going to replace the current acting IG at Interior. HUD

Reports of Replacement for Acting Interior Watchdog Still a Mystery to Incumbent

HUD Secretary Carson says in email that a political appointee from his department will be stepping in as acting IG overseeing probes of Interior's Zinke.

As of Wednesday afternoon, acting Interior Department Inspector General Mary Kendall had still received no word from the White House on news reports that she is being replaced by an administrator from the Housing and Urban Development Department.

Suzanne Israel Tufts, assistant HUD secretary for the Office of Administration since last December, is being sent over to Interior temporarily, according to a Friday internal email from HUD Secretary Ben Carson wishing her well. The email was obtained by the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight, which tracks IG vacancies.

The reported move of the urban affairs and human resources specialist—not confirmed yet by the White House—raises questions on two fronts: how it will address the ongoing push by advocates to pressure President Trump to permanently fill vacancies at IG offices relying on acting leaders, and suspicions among critics of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that the move could be related to the IG’s ongoing probes of his travel expenses, business interests and political activities.

The Interior IG position is the longest-standing vacancy among the 73 slots governmentwide.

Tufts will remain a HUD appointee, according to HUD spokesman Jereon Brown, quoted in The Hill. Interior spokeswoman Faith Vander Voort told Government Executive, “The position of the inspector general has been vacant for about 10 years. This is a presidentially appointed, Senate confirmed position, which would be announced by the White House.”

Earl Devaney, who left as Interior’s IG in February 2009 to run President Obama’s Recovery Board, told Government Executive that to his knowledge, replacing an acting IG with another acting “has never been done with IGs, though it has been done with other political appointees.” The watchdogs created under the 1970 Inspector General Act “are supposed to be selected for nonpolitical reasons,” he noted, though perhaps a few were considered for political reasons.

Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department IG currently an attorney representing such clients as cashiered FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexual harassment accuser Christine Blasey Ford, tweeted his suspicions about the transfer on Tuesday. “This is a very big deal,” he wrote. “Politicizing the oversight function is dangerous, especially in the absence of any congressional oversight. Changing IGs in the midst of multiple serious investigations of the agency's head should raise alarm bells everywhere.”

“This is a puzzling move,” said POGO Public Policy Director Liz Hempowicz, in a statement. “Replacing one acting inspector general with another who has no significant government oversight experience, and at a time when there are several ongoing investigations involving Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s activities, is politically suspect. They shouldn’t be changing hats right now, when there are numerous investigations left to be completed. The prolonged tenure of an acting inspector general at the Interior Department is a larger problem, but this move does nothing to address that.”

Environmental activists also expressed concern. “Now that Scott Pruitt is gone, Zinke has distinguished himself as the most corrupt member of Trump’s Cabinet through his shady deals and lavish spending, which in this administration is no easy feat,” said Athan Manuel, director of the Sierra Club’s Lands Protection Program, in a statement. “Bringing in a Trump political appointee is a blatant attempt to shield Zinke from meaningful investigation into his wrongdoing. The IG should be a watchdog working for the American people’s best interests, not another political player taking orders from Donald Trump.”

The White House did not respond to queries by publication time.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.