Colorado Public Radio’s Hayley Sanchez reports on the removal late Friday of acting Bureau of Land Management Direct William Perry Pendley from his “temporary” position by a federal judge, weeks after Pendley’s politically self-immolating nomination to formally lead the agency he’s directed for over a year was rescinded by the White House:
Environmentalists are celebrating after the controversial head of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management was forced to stop leading the agency Friday.
A federal judge blocked William Perry Pendley from continuing to serve in that role. Pendley, who is officially deputy director of the BLM but has sat atop the agency’s organizational chart since July 2019, served unlawfully for 424 days without Senate confirmation, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said. The Trump administration immediately vowed to appeal the decision…
Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, tweeted Friday that the decision on Pendley was clear from the get-go.
“Someone who’s spent his entire career opposed to the very idea of public lands is unfit to lead a land management agency. Period,” the tweet read. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, did not publicly respond to the judge’s ruling. [Pols emphasis]
As the Washington Post reports, Pendley is off the job pending appeal–and keep in mind that the Trump administration, up for re-election by the American people in five short weeks, has never had a Senate-confirmed director for the BLM:
The ruling will be immediately appealed, according to Interior Department spokesman Conner Swanson. He called it “an outrageous decision that is well outside the bounds of the law,” and he said the Obama administration had similarly filled key posts at the agency with temporary authorizations.
The agency will abide by the judge’s order while the appeal is pending, officials said. It will also have to confront questions over the legitimacy of all decisions Pendley had made, including his approval of land use plans in Montana that Morris said Pendley was not authorized to make.
One of the biggest changes to the BLM in its history occurred under Pendley’s term as acting director when the agency moved its titular headquarters from Washington, D.C. to Grand Junction–a move fraught with controversy that still hasn’t been fully completed, yet the accomplishment by the BLM most celebrated by Sen. Cory Gardner. Gardner wasn’t the only local politician who backed this change of address to the same literal office building as major oil companies in Grand Junction, but as opinion soured and the “Pendley situation” hurt the credibility of the Trump administration on public lands, Gardner was the one left publicly holding the bag.
Pendley may have been benched, but Cory Gardner is still holding the bag–which explains his lack of comment.
And if Pendley is benched, who is now in charge? And was Pendley the one who appointed him or her, sometime AFTER the 210 day limit on his "vacancy" clock?
Unwinding all of the actions of those who violated the Vacancy Act provisions is going to be a mess. Hope springs eternal that such moves will be on the Biden Administration's radar, and they appoint people able to assess actions of "the acting" and those "assigned duties of" an office.
114 days left in the current term. WAPO's tracker of 757 Senate confirmed spots shows Trump has 133 open, without a nominee. Another 102 nominated, but the Senate has not acted on their nominations. Only 534 nominated, approved and still serving.
I continue to be hopeful we won't have anyone with a trifecta of malevolence, malfeasance and managerial skill. Trump was bad enough, but at least he was incompetent and didn't know how to run a large, existing organization.