Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., have demanded an investigation into allegations David Bernhardt, President Donald Trump nomination for the Interior Secretary, has unethically done favors for his former law clients, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.
The senators particularly cited Bernhardt's "opportunity to oversee Interior policies that directly affected his former clients, who paid his law firm millions to lobby on their behalf."
Among those clients is the Westlands Water District in California's Central Valley. Bernhardt sued Interior four times on behalf of that client, and, after taking office as deputy secretary, immediately attempted to undermine the Endangered Species Act.
Soon after Trump nominated Bernhardt to head the department, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote on Twitter he "might be the most special-interest-driven nominee President @realDonaldTrump could have selected" for the position.
Warren and Blumenthal pointed out another example of unethically benefitting his former clients, that of Cadiz Inc., the developer of a putative water storage project in the Mojave Desert that paid his former firm $2.75 million in lobbying fees and 200,000 shares of stock while Bernhardt was employed there.
Soon after Bernhardt's confirmation as deputy secretary, Interior withdrew legal rulings that were not helpful to Cadiz, giving the project a new lease on life despite years of findings that it is environmentally damaging.
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