Interior Department Secretary, David Bernhardt. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

The Interior Department’s inspector general has launched an investigation into ethics complaints leveled against the agency’s new secretary, David Bernhardt, who was confirmed by the Senate last week, the New York Times reports.

Details: Mary Kendall, the agency’s deputy inspector general, told the 8 Democratic senators who requested a formal investigation that she had received 7 complaints from "a wide assortment of complainants alleging various conflicts of interest and other violations" by Bernhardt. Recent reporting by the Times revealed that Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for oil and gas companies, had used his position in the Trump administration to promote a policy advocated by his former client, among other things.

Bernhardt’s spokeswoman, Faith Vander Voort, told the Times: "Secretary Bernhardt is in complete compliance with his ethics agreement and all applicable laws, rules, and regulations. It is important to note that the Department Ethics Office has already conducted a review of many of these accusations at Mr. Bernhardt’s request and determined that Secretary Bernhardt is in complete compliance."

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Updated 54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill

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Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a vote on Republicans' $500 billion targeted COVID-19 relief bill, a far less comprehensive package than the $1.8 trillion+ deal currently being negotiated between the Trump administration and House Democrats.

Why it matters: There's little appetite in the Senate for a stimulus bill with a price tag as large as what President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been calling for. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) "skinny" proposal was mostly seen as a political maneuver, as it had little chance of making it out of the Senate.

The hazy line between politics and influence campaigns

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The recent firestorm over the New York Post’s publication of stories relying on data from a hard drive allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden shows the increasingly hazy line between domestic political “dirty tricks” and a foreign-sponsored disinformation operation.

Why it matters: This haziness could give determined actors cover to conduct influence operations aimed at undermining U.S. democracy through channels that just look like old-fashioned hard-nosed politics.