In a recent development, House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) have sent a letter to Julia Bernal, the Executive Director of the Pueblo Action Alliance (PAA). This move is part of the committee’s ongoing oversight into the actions of Joe Biden’s U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a Democrat former New Mexico congresswoman. The committee is scrutinizing the potential misuse of her position and her impartiality while holding a cabinet official role.
The letter outlines concerns regarding the nature of the relationship between Secretary Haaland and the Pueblo Action Alliance, an organization actively involved in lobbying, political activities, and advocacy efforts on environmental and energy issues, particularly in the context of oil and gas production on federal lands. Given the Department of the Interior’s responsibility for managing oil and gas production on federal lands, the close association between Secretary Haaland and PAA is raising questions about her role as a cabinet official.
The members of the committee note that Secretary Haaland has reportedly held meetings with PAA leaders during her tenure as Secretary of the Interior, focusing on PAA’s opposition to oil and gas production on federal lands. Additionally, the Secretary has publicly displayed her association with PAA by adorning personal items with PAA insignia. This connection is not one-sided, as PAA frequently highlights its close relationship with Secretary Haaland.
The House Committee on Natural Resources is now keen to investigate the unique dynamics of this relationship, as it raises potential ethical and impartiality concerns.
Furthermore, the committee’s concerns extend to a review of PAA’s history, including its nonprofit status with the New Mexico Secretary of State. Despite PAA operating since at least 2018, it did not formally incorporate in New Mexico until October 15, 2021. More troubling is the fact that the State of New Mexico revoked PAA’s nonprofit status on March 17, 2022. This nonprofit status remained revoked until June 5, 2023. Despite this revocation, PAA continued to function and carry out programming in New Mexico and across the United States from March 2022 through June 2023.
The House Committee finds these developments troubling and is actively seeking to delve into the relationship between PAA and Secretary Haaland, the nature of PAA’s associations with international socialist organizations attempting to influence American policy, and the transparency surrounding PAA’s funding sources and compliance with U.S. nonprofit regulations.
The committee’s oversight requests to Secretary Haaland regarding this issue have been previously documented, and it remains to be seen how these concerns will be addressed moving forward.
The relationship between a high-ranking government official and an advocacy organization is under scrutiny, with questions surrounding the potential impact on policy decisions and regulatory actions in the realm of environmental and energy issues. As the House Committee on Natural Resources continues to investigate, the outcome of this inquiry could have far-reaching implications for Secretary Haaland and her role within the Department of the Interior.