Reassigned Interior Employees Blame Politics, Climate Work

Reassigned Interior Employees Blame Politics, Climate Work
In this Sept. 29, 2017 file photo, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke delivers a speech billed as “A Vision for American Energy Dominance” at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC. Sixteen senior employees reassigned under Zinke’s leadership say they believe the moves were political retribution or punishment. But investigators say they are unable to determine whether anything was done illegally.

Sixteen senior employees at the U.S. Department of Interior reassigned to new duties under President Donald Trump’s administration viewed their moves as political retribution or punishment for their work on climate change, energy or conservation, according to the results of an internal investigation released Wednesday.

However, investigators said they were unable to determine if anything illegal occurred because the agency leaders did not document their rationale for the reassignments.

The findings by the Office of Inspector General follow a backlash over new jobs assigned to almost three dozen senior employees in the months after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke took office last year.

Critics charged that the personnel changes were an attempt to squelch dissenting voices within an administration that has promoted energy development and downplayed climate change.

The inspector general’s report concluded the moves were made without any clear criteria and without consulting the affected employees or their supervisors.

Zinke spokeswoman Heather Swift said agency officials acted within their legal authority when…

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