A government watchdog group is calling for one of President Joe Biden’s appointees to be investigated for an “egregious” ethics violation.
According to the Daily Caller, Protect the Public Trust alleges that Deputy Solicitor for Water Resources Daniel Cordalis rescinded a memo earlier this year that led to financial gain for one of his former legal clients and his wife’s employer.
“A definite financial interest”
The action by Cordalis directly benefitted the Yurok Tribe of Northern California, according to the complaint. He previously represented the tribe, and it currently employs his wife.
As specified in the January memo rescinded last month, revenue was slashed for the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, which has provided more than $30 million in grants to the tribe since 2013.
The watchdog group noted that nonpolitical officials, not Cordalis, wrote the memo.
Protect the Public Trust Director Michael Chamberlain explained his position in a statement: “With the January memo, it’s possible that some of that funding could be reduced. So the tribe, as it’s spelled out in our complaint, has a definite financial interest in the policy discussed in the memo.”
In a separate press release, Chamberlain asserted that there were “multiple reports of misconduct among Interior appointees under review.”
“Biden’s ethics standards”
As for the ethics complaint against Cordalis, the press release insisted that the “American public has every right to demand that high-ranking federal officials act in the best interests of the public, not the interests of former employers and clients or their spouse’s employers.”
Chamberlain reminded Biden that he “promised ‘the most ethically vigorous administration in history,'” going on to ask Interior Secretary Deb Haaland when she will “begin holding her staff to that high standard.”
Top House Republicans have also begun asking questions about the rescinded memo.
“As Deputy Solicitor for Water Resources, Mr. Cordalis is subject to President Biden’s ethics standards,” wrote Reps. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ). “Therefore, for two years, Mr. Cordalis is prohibited from participating in ‘any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to [his] former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.”
The pair of GOP lawmakers concluded that the “financial implications of his June 11, 2021 memorandum, particularly for the Yurok Tribe, call Mr. Cordalis’ compliance with President Biden’s standards into question.”