Chairs Raúl M. Grijalva & Jared Huffman Request Documents on Acting DOI Secretary Bernhardt’s Ties with Westlands Water District

April 05, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Water, Oceans, & Wildlife Subcommittee Chair Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) launched a new inquiry today seeking documents associated with David Bernhardt, the current Deputy Secretary and Acting Secretary of the Interior, and California’s powerful Westlands Water District, a former client of Bernhardt’s. Serious questions have been raised in filings with the Inspector General and the Office of Government Ethics regarding the conflicts between his work as a lobbyist and lawyer for the irrigation district and now as a top official in the Trump administration.

In the letter sent today to the Westlands Water District, Reps. Huffman and Grijalva wrote:

“Serious questions have been raised regarding the potential conflicts between his [Bernhardt’s] work as a top official at the Department of the Interior (DOI) and his previous work as a lobbyist and lawyer with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck representing the Westlands Water District.  These potential conflicts have been described in national news reports and in numerous complaints filed with the Inspector General and Office of Government Ethics. It is essential that the Congress and the American people have a full and complete record of the relationship between Mr. Bernhardt and Westlands so these questions can be answered, and potential conflicts of interest can be addressed.”

The letter requests all documents associated with David Bernhardt and his work relating to his former water district client, including his work to weaken Endangered Species Act protections and to pursue funding for the raising of Shasta Dam over the objections of the State of California. 

You can see the full text of the letter here.