The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jayson O’Neill (406) 200-8582 

Montana Judge Rules Trump's Illegal Land Manager's Decisions are Invalid

Illegal, unconfirmed acting official charade has consequences.


Late last Friday, a district judge ruled William Perry Pendley's decisions as acting Bureau of Land Management director in Montana were invalid. Pendley has served unlawfully as the acting BLM director for 424 days despite him and the rest of the Department of Interior knowing his succession was illegal. In response to this ruling, Western Values Project Director Jayson O'Neill issued the following statement:

"The Trump administration's temporary illegal land manager's charade to curry favors for special interests is rightfully coming to a halt. The judge's ruling proved, once again, that extremist, anti-public lands zealot William Pendley's reign was both outside of the law and a violation of the U.S. Constitution. It's long past time for Trump's corrupt Interior Department to fire Pendley and stop wasting tax dollars with futile appeals and illegal actions. There should be no room in federal government for corrupt and conflicted racists who openly act in industries' interest over the American people."

Pendley's Illegal Saga Timeline:

  • July 29, 2019: William Perry Pendley is delegated authority as de facto director of the Bureau of Land Management.
  • May 5, 2020: Pendley's last delegation of authority.
  • May 11, 2020: PEER and Western Watershed suit challenged the order.
  • May 22, 2020: Interior officials allow Pendley to craft and sign his own succession order.
  • June 26, 2020: Trump announces intent to nominate Pendley to lead the Bureau.
  • July 20, 2020: Montana Governor Bullock sues Pendley for unlawfully serving.
  • August 15, 2020: White House announces intent to withdrawal Pendley's nomination.
  • September 25, 2020: A District Judge strikes Pendley's authority and his last 424 days as de facto director citing a GAO investigation into then acting DHS director Chad Wolf.
  • September 29, 2020: Interior needlessly appeals the clear rebuke.
  • October 2, 2020: Bernhardt claims he will crush the hopes and dreams of those challenging the Trump administration's illegal charade.
  • October 2, 2020: Bernhardt says, "I am exercising all the authority of the director [of the BLM] and I will continue to do that."
  • October 8, 2020: Pendley says, "I'm still running the bureau... I have always been from day one."
  • October 13, 2020: Pendley's westward public relations tour included ignoring the ruling, insulting editors and the news media, and claiming not to be putting any pen to paper.
  • October 16, 2020: A District Judge strikes three industry-favored, illegal Resource Management Plans in Montana and affirms advocates' right to challenge other decisions made under Pendley's de facto authority.

Western Values Project brings accountability to the national conversation about Western public lands and national parks conservation - a space too often dominated by industry lobbyists and their allies in government.