Interior Sec Proposes Major Contract For Ex-Employer

The Associated Press reports:

The Interior Department is proposing to award one of the first contracts for federal water in perpetuity to a powerful rural California water district that had long employed Secretary David Bernhardt as a lobbyist.

Conservation groups are demanding fuller disclosure of financial terms and an environmental review of the proposed deal for the California’s Westlands Water District, the nation’s largest agricultural water supplier.  The water district serves some of country’s wealthiest and most politically influential corporate farmers.

Bernhardt served as a lobbyist for Westlands until 2016, the year before he joined Interior, initially as deputy secretary. Bernhardt’s past lobbying work — much of it for industries with business before Interior — has led environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers to accuse him of lack of transparency and the appearance of conflict of interest in his work at the agency.