FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 24, 2016
CONTACT: Elise Daniel (202) 226-9019
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held an oversight hearing on the “Culture of Corruption” at the Department of the Interior (DOI). During the hearing, Mary Kendall, DOI Deputy Inspector General (IG), acknowledged that Jonathan Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service, purposely lied to the Secretary of the Interior about a book deal he improperly obtained for himself, and that Director Jarvis attempted to mislead her team of federal investigators as they looked into the matter.
In a handwritten note to DOI Secretary Sally Jewell, Director Jarvis assured her that he wrote the book at the request of the publisher and on his own time with no ethics issues.
“Do you know why he did not consult with the ethics folks first?” Subcommittee Chairman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) asked.
“I believe he told the investigators that he intentionally chose not to consult the ethics office because he was afraid it would either slow down or thwart his efforts to write the book,” Kendall responded.
In February, the IG released a report about Director Jarvis’ intentional violation of ethics rules to secure the book deal, and the lies that he constructed in an attempt to get away with his unethical behavior.
Ed Keable, DOI’s Deputy Solicitor for General Law, told the Committee that Director Jarvis was “disciplined” via a letter of reprimand, and that he would be required to attend ethics classes. His book remains on sale.
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) then pointed out that Director Jarvis not only fails to act ethically himself, but he actively rewards those employees who violate rules and break the law like Dave Uberuaga. In the past, Uberuaga was found to have abused his position as Superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park after he improperly sold his house for over three times the market value to a park concessionaire in 2002. Following that illegal incident, Director Jarvis promoted Uberuaga to one of the most prestigious positions in the National Park Service—Superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park.
Uberuaga announced his retirement last week following a federal investigation that revealed sexual abuse occurred in the Grand Canyon’s River District under his leadership. Rather than holding his employee accountable for his actions, Director Jarvis had asked him to come work at headquarters in D.C. instead of retire.
Other disturbing examples include the Director of the Bureau of Indian Education, who used his position to hire his girlfriend and niece—violating federal law in the process— and Timothy Reid, Chief Ranger at Yellowstone National Park, who improperly used his NPS apartment in an international home exchange related to his family’s bed and breakfast. Reid was then promoted to serve as the Superintendent of Devils National Monument by Director Jarvis himself.
In Kendall’s prepared testimony she wrote, “DOI does not do well in holding accountable those employees who violate laws, rules, and regulations. We see too few examples of senior leaders making the difficult decision to impose meaningful corrective action and hold their employees accountable. Often, management avoids discipline altogether and attempts to address misconduct by transferring the employee to other duties or to simply counsel the employee. The failure to take appropriate action is viewed by other employees as condoning misbehavior.”
Click HERE to view full witness testimony.