Lobbyist-turned-acting interior secretary had loads of unreported meetings with fossil fuel execs

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Fox News / YouTube Swamp creatures crash Trump nominee 39 1554770074.jpg...
Fox News / YouTube

It’s another day, and another swamp creature-turned-governmental department head is meeting just about everyone he represents, except the American people. Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt seems to be steering away from his officially listed calendar meetings, so much so that his revised calendar has 260 differences from his original calendar. Turns out, Bernhardt has been very, very busy meeting with Big Oil, Big Gas, Big Timber, and Big Mining. From Roll Call:

Recently posted versions of acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s daily schedules contain at least 260 differences from his original schedules, with the newest records showing meetings previously described as “external” or “internal” were actually with representatives of fossil fuel, timber, mining and other industries, according to a review by CQ Roll Call.

Events left out of the original calendars but now disclosed or detailed further include a keynote address at the Trump International Hotel in Washington for the industry group Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, encounters with executives at Chevron Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell, and a meeting with the chairman of a conservative group Bernhardt previously represented in litigation that environmentalists believe was geared toward weakening the Endangered Species Act.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 28: A demonstrator wears a Creature from the Black Lagoon mask as David Bernhardt, President Donald Trump's nominee to be Interior Secretary, testifies during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing on March 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
Swamp supporter in a David Bernhardt committee hearing

These guys are barely even pretending to be anything other than the greedy swamp creatures we thought they were from the start. As Roll Call notes, Bernhardt, a former energy lobbyist, had to sign a waiver and pinky swear that he wouldn’t advocate for his former industry. Pfffft. Don’t worry! He’s going to seek ethics advice (from someone) before he does anything on its behalf. You know, totally on the up and up! Nothing to worry about there.

Versions of the daily card for Feb. 27, 2018, shows Bernhardt had a 10:30 a.m. meeting with Jean Sagouspe, chairman of the Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy and Reliability, or CESAR, which is supported by conservative and libertarian groups who oppose many federal environmental regulations.

Bernhardt was a director at CESAR, and represented the group in litigation against the Fish and Wildlife Service to enforce protections of the American eel. Environmentalists have said the case was a legal tactic to make the Endangered Species Act unworkable and force lawmakers to rewrite it.

Bernhardt has since denied that meeting took place. Meanwhile, an Interior employee said Bernhardt is keeping his real schedule in a Google doc, away from public eyes—which would be a violation of federal law. An Interior Department spokesperson denied that too.

The absolute gall of Donald Trump to campaign for two years on “draining the swamp,” only to take office and install one lobbyist after another in positions of power, from the EPA to Medicaid to the Department of the Interior. It’s open business for swamp creatures in every department. None more so than at the Department of the Interior, where Trump lackeys have been busy giving away oil-drilling permits off our coastal shores and in environmentally critical regions of the Arctic.

Meanwhile, Bernhardt may be confirmed by a Republican-controlled Senate as early as this week.

Get ready to fight like hell in 2020.

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