President Donald Trump’s called another Colorado native to big leagues that are D.C. politics.
Trump nominated David Bernhardt as Deputy Secretary of the Interior on Friday. If the Rifle native gets a Senate confirmation, he’ll be helping manage the United States federal lands, natural resources and relations with indigenous groups.
Bernhardt is an alum of the University of Northern Colorado. From 2001 to 2009, he held several positions within the Department of the Interior, including the role of solicitor, the Interior’s third-ranking official and chief legal officer, according to an announcement from the White House.
“Bernhardt’s extensive experience serving under former Interior Secretaries (Gale) Norton and (Dirk) Kempthorne and his esteemed legal career is exactly what is needed to help streamline government and make the Interior and our public lands work for the American economy,” said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in a statement Friday.
Not everyone is thrilled with Bernhardt’s extensive experience, especially his current role with the lobbying and law firm Brownstein, Hyatt Farber and Schreck.
Over the last five years, Bernhardt has both sued the Interior Department and lobbied the Justice Department and Congress to finalize a settlement that could be worth more than $375 million to a water district in California. For his services, he received $1.27 million, according to McClatchy reporter Stuart Leavenworth.
“Nominating Bernhardt for the number two job at Interior is one of the boldest examples yet of President Trump’s broken promises to ‘drain the swamp,'” said, Chris Saeger, executive director of Western Values Project, in a statement.
The Montana and Colorado-based advocacy and watchdog group filed a suit this week against the Interior to force the release of documents related to Bernhardt’s time at Interior during fraud and bribery scandals related to convicted former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.