By Darryl Fears
6 October 2017

(The Washington Post) – An Interior Department executive turned whistleblower who claimed the Trump administration retaliated against him for publicly disclosing how climate change affects Alaska Native communities resigned Wednesday.

In a separate criticism of Interior’s leadership, a group of former department officials, from both Republican and Democratic administrations, objected to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s characterization of department employees as not loyal.

Joel Clement, a scientist and policy expert, was removed from his job by Zinke shortly after the disclosure and reassigned to an accounting position for which he has no experience. Clement was among dozens of senior executive service personnel who were quickly, and perhaps unlawfully, reassigned in June, but he was the only person who spoke out.

Interior’s inspector general is probing the reassignments to determine whether the process was legal. By law, executives are to be given ample notice of a job switch. Many of those reassigned say they were given no notice, according to attorneys who are representing some of the employees. The inspector general said Clement is on the list of employees being contacted, though Clement and his lawyer say that hasn’t happened in the more than two months since the evaluation launched.

Clement is now the second reassigned Interior employee known to resign. He said he mulled over resigning for months before submitting a letter to Greg Gould, director of natural resources revenue, late Wednesday morning. […]

Page 1 of the resignation letter of Joel Clement, a scientist and policy expert at the U.S. Interior Department, on 4 October 2017. Graphic: Joel Clement

Clement said workers at Interior are outraged by Zinke’s comment in a speech slightly more than a week ago that they are disloyal. “I got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag,” Zinke said, adding that policy-decision positions should be shipped from Washington to Western cities, such as Denver.

“Everyone is pissed here about his comments about loyalty. It’s the buzz in the building. You hear snide remarks all day long at how ludicrous that was. They clearly have lost respect for the leadership of that organization,” Clement said.

Zinke is on a mission to cut 4,000 jobs at Interior in accordance with President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget. In a Senate committee hearing, Zinke said attrition and reassignments would be used as tools toward that goal, and said layoffs are possible if they don’t work.

Clement said the disloyalty comment “was enough for people to feel the pressure and a chill.”

In his resignation letter, Clement was defiant, accusing Zinke and Trump of poor leadership.

“The investigations into my whistleblower complaints are ongoing and I hope to prevail.

“Retaliating against civil servants for raising health and safety concerns is unlawful, but there are many items to add to your resume of failure,” he said, listing several. [more]

Interior Department whistleblower resigns, bipartisan former appointees object to Zinke’s statements


  1. Anonymous said...

    Anybody that speaks out against Trump will be targetted. The man is a fascist and on his way to being a dictator.

    Quite simply - fuck Trump. He's not my president and never, ever will be.  


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