Two federal lawsuits were filed against the Biden administration earlier this week, alleging that it violated federal law when it didn’t share communications that involved the daughter of Deb Haaland, the secretary of the Interior.
The suits, filed on Monday by the non-profit watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust, both ask federal courts to compel two different federal agencies to comply with its requests for information.
One of the suits was filed against the Bureau of Land Management, while the other was filed against the Department of the Interior.
PPT filed two separate information requests, one with BLM and one with DOI, on January 2. They were seeking communications that happened between some top Biden administration officials and Somah Haaland, the daughter of the interior secretary.
Those requests were filed as part of the Freedom of Information Act. That requires all federal government agencies to share some documents, information and communications publicly when requested to do so.
A report from Fox News Digital led to the FOIA requests made by PPT. That report showed that Haaland lobbied certain federal lawmakers on some big-ticket issues such as oil and gas leasing. These are issues in which her mother has some oversight in her role.
Michael Chamberlain, the director of PPT, spoke with Fox News Digital recently and said of Haaland:
“Her daughter’s activism and lobbying efforts certainly have the potential to create the perception in the minds of the public that Secretary Haaland could be conflicted on issues under her authority. Further complicating matters is the participation of an organization that claims Somah Haaland among its leadership in the protest that turned into a riot at the Interior headquarters.
“Each of these items alone would point to the need for DOI to provide more transparency into any relationships and interactions between Somah Haaland and senior Department officials. Taken together, this need is magnified.”
Fox News Digital’s report first came out in December. It focused on the activities of Somah Haaland, who works for Pueblo Action Alliance as a media organizer. That is an environmental and cultural group that is based in New Mexico.
The report shed light on the fact that Haaland went to Washington, D.C., with other climate activists. On that trip, they asked federal officials and other lawmakers to put a stop to drilling for fossil fuels that was happening near the Chaco Culture National Historical Park, which is located in the northwestern section of New Mexico.
In addition to their lobbying, the group of activists also screened a film that Haaland narrated that “showcases the threats” that both gas and oil leasing pose in that region.
“Agency officials” and Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich and Democratic Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez – both from New Mexico – attended the film screening.
PPT wanted to gain all communications that happened about the film between Haaland and seven different officials at the DOI, including her mother, as well as two officials from BLM.
Thus far, neither agency has complied with those requests, and it’s very possible they don’t have any intention of doing so, which is why PPT filed the lawsuits this week.