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 8:19 AM
Updated: Oct 19, 2018 8:19 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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34830

Reported Deaths: 2143
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9900581
Lake3639190
Allen166269
Cass15877
Elkhart132228
St. Joseph128634
Hendricks117171
Hamilton116293
Johnson1115109
Madison59359
Porter54328
Bartholomew51535
Clark50541
LaPorte43824
Howard41528
Tippecanoe4143
Jackson3921
Delaware38539
Shelby37322
Hancock34027
Floyd31839
Boone31535
Vanderburgh2822
Morgan28024
Montgomery24517
Noble23721
White2378
Clinton2331
Decatur22431
Grant21323
Dubois1993
Harrison19422
Henry18411
Greene16925
Vigo1698
Dearborn16821
Warrick16628
Monroe16612
Lawrence16524
Kosciusko1501
Miami1401
Putnam1377
Jennings1304
Orange13022
Scott1203
Marshall1112
Franklin1108
Ripley1096
Carroll932
Daviess9216
Wayne855
LaGrange842
Steuben842
Wabash792
Fayette787
Newton7810
Jasper681
Jay530
Washington521
Clay511
Fulton491
Randolph483
Rush472
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley433
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan361
Owen351
Perry330
Brown331
Wells320
Benton310
Huntington282
Knox280
Blackford262
Tipton251
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke180
Gibson172
Adams171
Posey160
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167
West Lafayette
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 90°
Kokomo
Clear
87° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 88°
Rensselaer
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 90°
Fowler
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 90°
Williamsport
Clear
89° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 89°
Crawfordsville
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 85°
Frankfort
Overcast
89° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 89°
Delphi
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 88°
Monticello
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 88°
Logansport
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 90°
Heat and Humidity Return Today.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events