Interior Dept contradicts Ben Carson's announcement of new inspector general

A political appointee at the Department of Housing and Urban Development will not become the top watchdog at...

Posted: Oct 19, 2018 7:19 AM
Updated: Oct 19, 2018 7:19 AM

A political appointee at the Department of Housing and Urban Development will not become the top watchdog at the Interior Department, an Interior spokeswoman said Thursday.

Interior spokeswoman Heather Swift said the announcement less than a week ago by HUD Secretary Ben Carson, in which he said that HUD Assistant Secretary Suzanne Israel Tufts was going to become the new acting IG at Interior "had false information in it."

Ben Carson

Political Figures - US

Swift did not say whether the announcement was false at the time it was made, or whether the administration's plans had changed after the move was criticized. The news of a possible new IG at Interior came as the office has four open investigations into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

"Ms. Tufts is not employed by the Department and no decision was ever made to move her to Interior," Swift said in her statement. "HUD sent out an email that had false information in it."

Carson had bid "a fond farewell" to Tufts in a department-wide email last week, and said she "has decided to leave HUD to become the Acting Inspector General at the Department of Interior."

HUD and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Interior's inspector general's office had no information beyond the department statement, and has not been contacted by the White House regarding who will lead the office.

Swift said that Tufts was a potential candidate for a post in the IG's office.

"Ms. Tufts was referred to the Department by the White House as a potential candidate for a position in the Inspector General's office. At the end of the day, she was not offered a job at Interior," Swift said.

Swift's statement said that Mary Kendall, who has led the office since 2009, "is still the Deputy Inspector General at the Department of the Interior." The inspector general post has officially been vacant since 2011.

The appointment of a political official as the acting inspector general was seen within the government watchdog community as highly unusual. Inspectors general take pride in their independence from political influence, and while they are nominated by the White House, they are first vetted by a non-partisan inspector general group and are not political figures and do not step down when the administration changes.

Some Democrats pointed out that the Interior inspector general's office is currently investigating Zinke, including a second review of his travel and a possible land deal with energy giant Halliburton involving a brewery in Zinke's Montana hometown.

"If the Interior Department's explanation is that Secretary Carson doesn't know what his own staff are doing, they should explain whether Ms. Tufts is needed at HUD or not," said Rep. Raúl Grijalva, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 515504

Reported Deaths: 10296
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34999558
DeSoto33360432
Hinds32743643
Jackson24906392
Rankin22565405
Lee16455245
Madison14954283
Jones14158248
Forrest13834260
Lauderdale12311323
Lowndes11357193
Lamar10693140
Pearl River9748244
Lafayette8868143
Hancock7849132
Washington7559169
Oktibbeha7229138
Monroe7068179
Pontotoc7033110
Warren6885178
Panola6791135
Neshoba6744210
Marshall6707142
Bolivar6468151
Union643598
Pike5942157
Alcorn5921107
Lincoln5540136
George510680
Prentiss508285
Tippah495683
Itawamba4884107
Scott478999
Tate4777117
Adams4776125
Leflore4749144
Copiah458195
Yazoo458092
Simpson4566117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4319106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4244110
Leake414191
Newton396182
Tishomingo386894
Grenada3789109
Stone366166
Jasper341266
Attala340490
Chickasaw318367
Winston318392
Clay312978
Clarke301695
Calhoun286850
Holmes272889
Smith270552
Yalobusha244947
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220242
Perry214556
Amite210357
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175441
Jefferson Davis174343
Tunica163539
Benton153139
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134839
Humphreys132239
Franklin126530
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson97134
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 847659

Reported Deaths: 16172
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1163752005
Mobile743371381
Madison53434738
Shelby38413371
Baldwin38171589
Tuscaloosa36131643
Montgomery34571782
Lee25664264
Calhoun22622519
Morgan22527408
Etowah20059520
Marshall18821318
Houston17769426
St. Clair16946359
Limestone16192220
Cullman16140305
Elmore15948295
Lauderdale15055307
Talladega14244302
DeKalb13061271
Walker12138380
Blount10765193
Autauga10545157
Jackson10204195
Coffee9435192
Colbert9363210
Dale9038192
Tallapoosa7283202
Russell710165
Chilton7078170
Covington6967197
Escambia6962144
Franklin6364108
Chambers5795142
Marion5435130
Dallas5302210
Pike5128109
Clarke485686
Lawrence4845130
Winston4785110
Geneva4650136
Bibb435495
Barbour370180
Butler3444101
Marengo342793
Monroe338366
Randolph337767
Pickens334790
Fayette331485
Henry321066
Cherokee319964
Hale318889
Crenshaw261678
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253555
Clay252069
Macon245767
Conecuh193562
Coosa185847
Wilcox178338
Lowndes178268
Bullock152745
Perry141840
Sumter139741
Greene130345
Choctaw94328
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