Restore Public Trust Highlights 12 Potential Violations of the Federal Vacancies Act

In Letter to Senate Oversight, Restore Public Trust highlights 12 potential instances where the Trump administration has avoided going through Senate confirmation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Restore Public Trust sent a letter to the leadership of the Senate Oversight Committee to alert them to recent revelations. According to original research by Restore Public Trust, there are currently at least 12 potential violations of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (Vacancies Act), which mandates that an acting official can only remain in that position for 210 days before the office must be vacated.

“The Trump administration is defying basic checks and balances that were set up to cut down on corruption,” said Restore Public Trust spokesperson Lizzy Price. “Your committee’s dedication to overseeing government agencies on behalf of the American people is key to ensuring the proper investigation of twelve potential violations of the Vacancies Act that we have uncovered.”  

One example of a potential violation – and its impacts – is the naming of Dr. Andrea Travnicek to Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. In August 2018, Dr. Travnicek, a former energy lobbyist, was tapped to serve as Acting Assistant Secretary within the Interior Department without proper scrutiny or Senate confirmation. Dr. Travnicek previously served as a lobbyist for Allete, the corporate parent of a lignite mine, BNI Coal, LTD. in North Dakota. Less than one month later, following the request of BNI Energy, the Bureau Of Land Management offered coal leases on 160 acres of federal land in North Dakota, making available about 2.4 million tons of mineable federal coal.

Just a few weeks ago, the Secretary of the Interior released a memo attempting to circumvent the Vacancies Act by creating his own rules and ignoring anti-corruption laws.

“Even more concerning is the Trump administration officials’ attempts to ignore anti-corruption laws and undermine the Senate. American taxpayers have a right to know that their government is acting within the law and not enriching some at the expense of many. Congress must further investigate these potential violations,” continued Price.

See the full letter here.

Full research document here.



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