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For Immediate Release: Oct 02, 2003
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

NEW CHARGES FILED AGAINST INTERIOR SOLICITOR

As Interior's Top Lawyer Resigns


Washington, DC--Interior Solicitor William G. Myers III continued to meet with a former client, the National Mining Association (NMA), in violation of an ethics agreement, according to a complaint filed today with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) by Friends of the Earth and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In the midst of an Interior Department Inspector General investigation into his conduct, Myers officially resigned his post, effective Oct. 10, 2003, and awaits confirmation on his appointment to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"Leaving the Interior Department does not absolve Myers of his ethical problems," said Kristen Sykes, Interior Department watchdog for Friends of the Earth. "It is imperative that the Interior Department do a thorough investigation of Myers' conduct as he awaits confirmation to the second highest court in the land."

Prior to his appointment as Interior's top lawyer, Myers was a registered lobbyist on coal and coalbed methane issues for the NMA. Myers signed an agreement barring him from participating in any matters involving his former clients for one year. Yet in the months following that agreement, Myers met with officials from the NMA, potentially violating his recusal agreement.

"These concerns speak to the fitness of Myers to serve on the 9th Circuit," stated PEER General Counsel Dan Meyer who prepared the complaints. "Myers's actions create a distinct appearance of impropriety."

This latest complaint supplements an earlier one filed in August by the same two groups. It cited improper meetings with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the American Farm Bureau -- groups Myers previously lobbied for while at the law firm Holland and Hart. In addition, the Interior Department's Inspector General is investigating a PEER complaint that alleges the Solicitor's Office, under Myers' supervision, allowed an illegal amnesty agreement to go forward. It forgave a string of grazing violations and granted a generous range of concessions to a politically connected Wyoming rancher. The Interior Inspector General's Office, which is already conducting an investigation at the request of the OGE, has indicated that they are examining whether, apart from the meetings, Myers intervened in departmental matters to benefit his former clients.

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Read a copy of the latest Myers ethics complaint

See the original ethics complaint

Examine the Inspector General complaint concerning an illegal grazing settlement negotiated by the Interior Solicitor's Office.