The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Caitlin MacNeal,COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER,(202) 347-1122,

BLM Director Requests Renewed Investigative Inquiry


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.

POGO's letter to Abbey and Secretary Salazar.

Abbey's letter to Kendall.

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.

The Leak in the Gulf Has Stopped, But the Pipeline between Industry and Interior Still Flows, July 16, 2010.

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more effective, accountable, open and honest federal government.