Republican U.S. House Natural Resources Committee leaders have escalated an ongoing investigation into Joe Biden’s Interior Secretary Deb Haaland regarding her connections to the left-wing environmental activist group Pueblo Action Alliance (PAA).
A letter sent to Secretary Haaland and the top Interior Department ethics official, Heather Gottry, and spearheaded by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., raises concerns about a potential “lack of impartiality and misuse of her position” in support of PAA and certain family members. Haaland’s daughter has been involved with PAA, while her husband has been engaged in consulting work related to Interior Department actions.
The GOP letter asserts that there is evidence suggesting Secretary Haaland may not have acted impartially and may not have avoided creating an appearance of partiality in her official duties. It further alleges that Haaland may have misused her position to benefit the non-profit organization Pueblo Action Alliance and even used her position, title, and authority to endorse the organization’s work.
The letter highlights that prior to her role as Secretary of the Interior, Haaland was associated with the origins of PAA. Additionally, evidence suggests that she has maintained a close relationship with PAA since assuming her position.
The investigation was initiated by Chairman Westerman in June, shortly after Secretary Haaland implemented a ban on fossil fuel leasing within 10 miles of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico. This move garnered opposition from local Native Americans and residents but received support from other tribes and environmental groups.
The Pueblo Action Alliance had previously advocated against new leasing near Chaco Canyon, with Haaland’s daughter, Somah, playing a role in lobbying on behalf of the group during a trip to Washington, D.C.
The letter also points to Haaland’s meetings with PAA Executive Director Julia Bernal, during which they discussed the group’s opposition to oil and gas leasing. Moreover, it highlights Haaland’s husband’s consulting work for the Laguna Development Corp, an entity affiliated with the Laguna Pueblo, which has advocated for a buffer zone around Chaco Canyon.
The investigation raises concerns about Secretary Haaland’s impartiality in matters involving PAA and the potential misuse of her position for the benefit of the organization. It also questions whether non-public information may have been inadvertently conveyed to PAA due to the group’s extensive access to Secretary Haaland.
The letter further notes PAA’s associations with groups like the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party and the Venceremos Brigade. The Republicans are seeking communications and documentation related to the investigation and have requested documents that the Department of the Interior has yet to provide.
“The Committee feels there is evidence that Secretary Haaland may not have acted impartially and did not avoid the appearance of a loss of impartiality in the performance of her duties. More alarmingly, there is evidence that Secretary Haaland misused her position for the potential benefit of a nonprofit, the Pueblo Action Alliance (PAA), and used her position—or at the very least permitted the use of her position, title, and authority—to endorse PAA and PAA’s work,” the letter read.
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, co-signed the letter with Chairman Westerman. As of now, there has been no immediate response from the Department of the Interior or PAA regarding the investigation.
“We support this investigation because these are serious allegations against Secretary Haaland, and we deserve to know the truth,” said Larry Behrens, Communications Director for the pro-energy group Power The Future. “There is no question there are close ties between Secretary Haaland and radical eco-left groups, but that doesn’t mean she gets to use her position to force their agenda on the rest of us. The Interior Department has proudly declared they are offering the fewest oil and gas leases in history, and that raises questions if they are serving Americans or doing the bidding of their closely-tied special interest groups.”