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

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Confirmed Cases: 97638

Reported Deaths: 2957
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7151160
DeSoto565061
Harrison388874
Jackson352770
Madison331489
Rankin331179
Lee276470
Forrest250976
Jones250479
Washington225977
Lafayette219840
Lauderdale2065125
Bolivar184966
Oktibbeha180252
Lamar172836
Lowndes158158
Neshoba1581104
Panola151031
Sunflower148046
Leflore141781
Warren140950
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Pike124251
Monroe123969
Copiah119333
Scott117627
Coahoma116329
Marshall111517
Lincoln111453
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Yazoo106230
Simpson104846
Tate101138
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Leake96238
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Wayne90821
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Marion86935
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George78313
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Newton77324
Winston74219
Tishomingo69438
Chickasaw68524
Tippah67317
Attala67125
Clarke60346
Walthall60226
Clay59818
Hancock59022
Jasper57815
Noxubee55516
Smith53815
Calhoun52412
Tunica49915
Claiborne46516
Montgomery46520
Yalobusha43714
Lawrence43313
Perry42419
Greene38617
Quitman3805
Humphreys37815
Stone37612
Jefferson Davis34211
Webster33813
Amite33510
Carroll32112
Wilkinson30518
Kemper29015
Sharkey26613
Jefferson2439
Benton2293
Franklin1933
Choctaw1866
Issaquena1053
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 136549

Reported Deaths: 2378
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19833350
Mobile13471292
Montgomery8865184
Tuscaloosa8744118
Madison797878
Shelby604349
Lee594560
Baldwin558850
Marshall396743
Calhoun354844
Etowah354045
Morgan332728
Houston293521
Elmore269148
DeKalb243521
St. Clair234036
Walker233084
Talladega217729
Limestone213520
Cullman191120
Dallas179326
Franklin179029
Autauga178525
Russell17653
Lauderdale174033
Colbert167526
Blount161815
Escambia161424
Chilton159330
Jackson158911
Covington140327
Dale139944
Coffee13656
Pike120510
Chambers117242
Tallapoosa116685
Clarke110416
Marion97129
Butler91439
Barbour8867
Winston74512
Marengo72620
Pickens66814
Randolph66013
Bibb65710
Lowndes65727
Hale64928
Geneva6384
Lawrence62823
Cherokee61413
Bullock60714
Clay5928
Monroe5908
Washington56113
Crenshaw54232
Perry5426
Conecuh53711
Wilcox53211
Henry5085
Macon48318
Fayette4678
Sumter43819
Cleburne3895
Lamar3772
Choctaw35112
Greene30315
Coosa1723
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