Department of Interior Secretarty Dirk Kempthorne swung into Boise, Idaho in a fleet of black Escalades yesterday to attend a luncheon in honor of his “public service”. While industry leaders met with Idaho’s politicos to celebrate Kempthorne’s ‘achievement’ Western Watersheds Project’s Katie Fite, Ken Cole and indie rock band Built to Spill bassist guitarist Brett Netson stood in the snow to bring attention to Kempthorne’s dismal record at Interior :
The protesters called attention to unethical actions of staffers in the department, which they say occurred during Kempthorne’s leadership and under the direction of his predecessor Gale Norton.
Yeah, let’s not forget all these midnight regulations, the attempt to gut the ESA (in a number of ways), the free-for-all oil & gas extravaganza and any number of other transgressions that occur(ed) under Kempthorne’s watch.
But Dirk, like any crafty politician, has never been one to let the truth stand in the way of a good talking point double-speak :
“Without question, there have been a variety of issues concerning the integrity and activities of certain aspects of the Department,” he said. “We have endeavored to create an atmosphere and culture of ethics in the Department, which is critically important.” (emphasis added)
Apparently, an Idaho politician’s idea of cleaning up an ethical mess involves spending $235K renovating his office bathroom:
department officials say much of the money was spent on lavish wood paneling and tile. Among the choice items found in the new bathroom: wainscot wood panels extending from floor to ceiling and cabinet doors revealing a working refrigerator and freezer.
This while environmental protections are being gutted and denied – from the most basic monitoring, to restoration, to species listings – all with Interior so-often citing a lack of resources.