Legal Scholars, Backing Whistleblower, Question Interior Dept.’s Senior Reorganization

Thirteen legal scholars, in a letter to the United States Office of Special Counsel, said U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s reassignment of 50 senior executives is unlawful if the moves belong to an attrition technique or to penalize views irregular with the Trump administration’s policies.

” The reassignment of over one-fifth of all senior executives within a company is more like the spoils system that our nation deserted over a century earlier than the kind of efficiency-inspired mobility that the [Civil Service Reform Act] ponders,” the letter states.

Georgetown University Law Center’s brand-new Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection sent the letter in assistance of a grievance by Joel Clement– previously director of the Office of Policy Analysis at the Interior– versus the Interior department. Clement, a researcher, and the department’s leading environment policy authorities, played a significant function in preparing the department’s action to environmental change, with a specific issue for issues dealing with Alaska Native people.
On June 15, Clement stated he was reassigned to the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, which is accountable for gathering royalties from nonrenewable fuel source business. A month after his reassignment, Clement, who has no training in auditing and no direct reports in his brand-new position, submitted a whistleblower problem with the Office of Special Counsel. In a short article in The Washington Post last month, he detailed why he submitted the grievance.

” I am a researcher, a policy specialist, a civil servant and a concerned person. Unwillingly, since today, I am also a whistleblower reward on an administration that picks silence over science,” Clement composed in the Post.

A spokesperson for the Office of Special Counsel decreased to talk about the status of Clement’s problem or whether others had been submitted by the reassigned Interior department senior executives.

President Donald Trump has chosen Henry Kerner– an assistant vice president for examinations at the Cause of Action Institute– to lead the company, which manages federal staff members’ whistleblower and other workers complaints. Adam Miles, who signed up with the OSC in 2011, is the acting unique counsel.

In reaction to push the focus on the reassignments, the Interior Department stated in a declaration in June: “The president signed an executive order to rearrange the federal government for the future and the secretary has been definitely out front on that issue.”.

The 13 legal scholars, whose locations of proficiency include constitutional, administrative and civil service law, consist of Yale Law School’s Bruce Ackerman, Washington University School of Law’s Kathleen Clark, UCLA School of Law’s Jon Michaels, University of Chicago Law School’s Jennifer Nou, Harvard Law’s Ian Samuel and University of California Berkeley School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky.

Clement’s problem, the scholars stated, “provides crucial concerns about the level of company heads’ authority to reassign members of the SES (senior executive service).” The SES was produced as part of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 to hire and establish knowledgeable upper-level workers, the scholars stated.

” Critical to the SES’s effectiveness is, with minimal exceptions, self-reliance from politics and, without any exceptions, liberty from retaliation for whistleblowing,” Joshua Geltzer, executive director of the Georgetown Institute, composed of the letter sent Friday on the legal scholars’ behalf.

8 Democratic members of the United States Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee late last month asked the Interior Department’s deputy inspector general to examine Zinke’s reassignment of the 50 workers.

The Georgetown Institute was introduced on Aug. 9 by a group of litigators with experience in trial and appellate advocacy, national security law, and federal prosecution.

Hogan Lovells partner Neal Katyal is the professor’s director. Geltzer, the executive director, is a previous senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council. Mary McCord, the institute’s senior litigator, is a previous acting assistant attorney general of the United States and previous primary deputy assistant attorney general of the United States for national security at the Justice Department.

The institute just recently submitted an amicus short in O’Donnell v. Harris County, a federal class action challenging the practice of apprehending misdemeanor accused before trial based upon their failure to pay money bail. And the institute is supporting the complainants in City of El Cenizo v. Texas, an obstacle to a state law punishing “sanctuary” cities.