Thursday, January 29, 2009

Salazar Pledges to Rehab Scandal-Ridden Interior

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar kicked off the daily press briefing today with his plans for cleaning out a department that has become famous for scandal.

"Over the last eight years, the Department of Interior has been tarnished by ethical lapses, of criminal behavior that has extended to the very highest levels of government," he said.

He’s taking over a Department plagued by Jack Abramoff-related scandals and another involving sex and drug use by Interior employees, and promised to clean house.

"We will work to reform the Department of the Interior, to restore the public's trust and confidence in the highest levels of ethics and accountability that the American people deserve," he said.
Salazar spoke yesterday as part of the daily White House briefing.
Today, he outlined his plan:
Today, I want to outline the first steps to reform that I plan to take in this Department.

I am speaking with you because the ethical lapses in this office, and the individuals who engaged in blatant and criminal conflicts of interest and self dealing, set one of the worst examples of corruption and abuse in government.

So today, I am directing the following actions, which my chief of staff, Tom Strickland, will lead. Tom Strickland is a former United States Attorney for Colorado. He served as United States Attorney while I served as Colorado’s Attorney General and top law enforcement officer.

1). First, I am redirecting an examination of potential criminal conduct by those who were directly involved in the scandals described in the three Inspector General reports. I have asked the Department of Justice and, if appropriate, the Colorado United States Attorney’s office, to review whether the criminal determinations made earlier were correct. Given the seriousness of the findings of the OIG, I want to make sure that those who blatantly flaunted the law receive the appropriate sanction. Read the rest.
Read yesterday's briefing here.