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Department of Interior Whistleblower Resigns Following Retaliatory Reassignment

October 04, 2017
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Joel Clement, an Interior Department executive, cites failure of leadership and waste of taxpayer dollars as major driving forces behind resignation

Washington – Today, Department of Interior (DOI) scientist, policy expert, and whistleblower Joel Clement, resigned his position effective this Friday. Clement, a member of the DOI Senior Executive Service since 2010, was abruptly and with no explanation transferred from his post as a top policy advisor to the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, the office that accepts royalty checks from oil companies.

Clement blew the whistle on Secretary Ryan Zinke’s decision to transfer him in July and later submitted a formal complaint that has triggered an ongoing investigation. For his courageous actions, he recently won the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage.

Clement issued a sharply worded resignation letter to Zinke, in which he discloses why he blew the whistle: “I believe you unlawfully retaliated against me for disclosing the perilous impacts of climate change upon Alaska Native Communities and for working to help get them out of harm’s way,” he said. He further cites in his letter and within a complaint that he has filed with the Office of Special Counsel that his and other Senior Executive Service reassignments demonstrate Zinke’s poor leadership, waste of taxpayer dollars, abuse of authority and a lack of concern for the perils of climate change.

Louis Clark, CEO at the Government Accountability Project, stated:

“Mr. Clement is a brilliant scientist and a courageous civil servant. The biggest losers in this management morass at the Department of Interior are the taxpayers. What is now at stake at the department is the civil service system itself. If the Secretary is able to get away with the reorganization that has begun then he will have succeeded in politicizing the entire department, something that Richard Nixon tried to do during Watergate.”

Contact: Andrew Harman, Communications Director
Phone: 202.457.0034 x156

Government Accountability Project

The Government Accountability Project is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP's mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.


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