Conflicts of interest

Interior Department opens ethics probe into new Secretary David Bernhardt

Department of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
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.

Progressives announce opposition to Pelosi-backed rule changes

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez points finger.
Rep-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Photo: Rick Loomis via Getty Images

Top Democrats unveiled a series of proposed changes to House rules Tuesday night, including the creation of a select committee on climate change and an exemption to a ban on hats that would allow members to wear religious headwear on the floor of the House.

The big picture: The rules overhaul is already being opposed by progressive Democrats Ro Khanna and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who have said they will vote against the package because of the "pay as you go" (PAYGO) rule — which requires any increase in entitlement spending be offset by paring back other entitlement programs. If more than 16 Democrats defect and no Republicans vote for the package, the Democratic majority won’t be able to pass the package as is.