Biden’s Interior Secretary hit with ethics complaint over possible ‘conflicts of interest’ related to oil leasing ban

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Government watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust filed an official ethics complaint against the Biden administration’s Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, questioning her “impartiality” regarding the decision to implement an oil leasing ban in New Mexico.

In June, Haaland placed a 20-year ban on oil, gas, and mineral leasing within 10 miles of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico. The stretch of land includes 53 allotments that bring in roughly $6.2 million annually for 5,000 Navajo Nation citizens.

Navajo citizens pushed back on the land leasing ban, estimating that it would force them to reportedly lose approximately $194 million.

Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren slammed the prohibition, noting that it would put residents in poverty and undermine the tribe’s sovereignty.

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PPT director Michael Chamberlain told Fox News Digital that the watchdog group filed an ethics complaint against Haaland because “she is anything but impartial.”

“Secretary Haaland apparently feels no compunction about participating in matters involving oil and gas leasing in Chaco Canyon despite past statements as well as her family’s — and her own — advocacy on the issue that reveals she is anything but impartial,” Chamberlain said.

The complaint, sent to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of the Interior, explained that Haaland possibly has several “conflicts of interest” regarding the decision to prevent the land leases.

“Somah Haaland, Secretary Haaland’s child, is a prominent member of an activist organization that lobbied federal officials seeking to restrict oil and gas leasing in the area,” the complaint stated. “Somah Haaland narrated a film opposing oil and gas development in the region, a film in which Deb Haaland participated prior to her nomination to be Interior Secretary. During the film, and elsewhere, Ms. Haaland made public statements opposing oil and gas development in this area.”

For those reasons, the ethics complaint claimed that “reasonable observers could question Secretary Haaland’s impartiality in the matter.”

“In fact, not only could reasonable observers question Secretary Haaland’s impartiality in the matter, we submit that observers knowledgeable about the issue from nearly every angle have already questioned her impartiality,” it continued.

The ethics complaint added that those who have supported banning land leases have also questioned Haaland’s impartiality.

“Media reports have highlighted objections raised by organizations such as the Western Energy Alliance to Secretary Haaland’s participation in the Chaco Canyon issue due to allegations she has ‘conflicts of interest’ based upon advocacy by herself and Somah,” it said.

PPT called for an immediate investigation into Haaland.

A DOI spokesperson told Fox News Digital they had not seen the “so-called complaint.”

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