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CONTACT: Project On Government Oversight
BLM Director Requests Renewed Investigative Inquiry
WASHINGTON - October 22 - POGO applauds Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Bob Abbey's request that Interior's Inspector General renew investigative inquiries into former District Manager Steve Henke.
"Why does it take a punch in the gut to get Interior to do anything on ethics? This is an obvious first step that BLM needs to take in order to assure the public that the agency takes a serious approach to ethics," said POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian. "But Interior still needs a cultural overhaul. We all saw what happened the last time an agency within Interior made itself vulnerable to industry influence and failed to hold ethics offenders accountable."
Last week, POGO revealed that BLM did not appropriately respond to the Inspector General’s findings that Mr. Henke accepted gifts from oil companies without reporting them. POGO called for Interior to "consider revising Mr. Henke’s ethics decision and investigating whether any ethics violations have occurred," among other broader reforms.
In a letter sent Monday, October 18, Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey asked Interior's Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall to "renew its investigative inquiries regarding certain 'questionable activities' that may have occurred during the tenure of Steve Henke, to include activities which eventually led to his employment by the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association."
Henke left the agency to become president of the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association (NMOGA) earlier this year. According to the Interior Inspector General, Henke accepted gifts such as tickets to golf tournaments and solicited donations from prohibited sources such as Merrion Oil & Gas and Williams Exploration & Production. He did not report any of these gifts on his annual Confidential Financial Disclosure Reports.
Additional information from POGO's Blog:
A Bungled Ethics Ruling at the Bureau of Land Management: Who's to BLM?, October 13, 2010.
Was BLM Manager's Relationship with Industry Too Obvious to Be Ignored?, August 26, 2010.
BLM Manager Ethics Swung Below Par, August 24, 2010.