President Donald Trump has tapped Commerce Department inspector Mark Greenblatt to be the new inspector general of the Department of the Interior, The Hill informs. Greenblatt, who is currently the assistant inspector general for investigations at Commerce, will replace Mary Kendall, who has served as Interior’s acting inspector general since 2009.
The longtime inspector and former New York litigator would enter a position in the Trump administration that was marred in controversy last year.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson mistakenly announced in October that Suzanne Tufts, a senior HUD official, would assume the top Interior oversight role. Democrats and watchdog advocates raised objections that Tufts, a political appointee who worked for Trump’s electoral campaign, would be conflicted as a watchdog.
An Interior spokesperson said at the time that Tufts was referred to the agency by the White House as a potential candidate for a position in the IG office but that “at the end of the day, she was not offered a job at Interior.”
The confusion came as then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke faced a string of probes from Interior’s inspector general, including involving his wife’s travel and reports he negotiated a business deal involving the former chairman of oil service company Halliburton Co. Shortly after the controversy, Tufts resigned from her position in HUD.
Greenblatt, who will still need to be confirmed by the Senate, would become the top watchdog overseeing the Department of Interior. His nomination also comes as Trump has yet to select a replacement for Zinke, his first Interior secretary who resigned in December, The Hill notes.
The White House said Friday that Greenblatt has more than 15 years of oversight experience at the Commerce Department IG office and with the Justice Department’s top watchdog. Previously, he clerked for U.S. District Judge Anita Brody and worked as chief counsel for the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.