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New DOI Inspector General Could Cripple Zinke Oversight

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Trump appointee Suzanne Israel Tufts, who currently serves as assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, has been picked to take over the inspector general’s office at Department of the Interior, according to The Hill.

At HUD, Tufts took over for career HUD employee Helen Foster, who told reporters she was demoted because she refused to sign off on a $31,000 dining set for Sec. Ben Carson’s office.

In a highly unusual move, Tufts will continue to be employed by HUD and will be detailed to the DOI. She will not become an employee of the DOI inspector general’s office.

In response to Tufts’ appointment, Nicole Ghio, senior program manager at Friends of the Earth U.S., issued the following statement:

Tufts’ appointment is a terrible sign. Tufts will be a rubber stamp for Zinke’s bad behavior that has already triggered 14 federal investigations into his conduct. Much like she did for Ben Carson, Tufts’ appointment is an attempt to keep the public in the dark while the top Trump’s administration appointees misuse taxpayer dollars on travel and furniture.

Americans rely on the inspectors general to be impartial, stopping the type of corruption and abuses of power that have become the hallmark of Zinke’s time in office by bringing the truth to light. Placing Tufts in charge of the DOI IG’s office is nothing short of Trump assigning a wolf to guard the sheep.

The only remedy for the corruption at the top of the Department of the Interior is to fire Ryan Zinke.

Expert contact: Nicole Ghio, (925) 451-0838 NGhio@foe.org
Communications contact: Patrick Davis, (202) 222-0744, pdavis@foe.org

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