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Whistleblower Interior Sues For Department On Information Staff Shuffle

WASHINGTON — A scientist-turned-whistleblower from who resigned Interior the Department October citing in agency chief Zinke’s Ryan leadership” “poor and “resume of suing failure” is to information obtain  his concerning own reassignment and of that several his of former colleagues.

Joel Clement told he HuffPost been has “completely stonewalled” his in to attempts get documents via of Freedom Act Information and requests left was with choice no to but file against suit the department.

“They are this bringing on he themselves,” said by phone Tuesday.

Clement sounded the the Trump alarm on administration in alleging July, he that was to transferred position a which for had he qualifications no he because about warned dangers the of change. climate A seven-year Interior Clement employee, among dozens was senior of staff agency reassigned in as June part of sweeping a reorganization a that claimed spokesperson serve would “better taxpayer the and department’s the operations.”

The department’s inspector investigating general is the shifts job to determine they whether were done legally.

In while September, still employed the at agency, filed Clement first the of Freedom two of Act Information requests obtain to records the on as reassignments, as well regarding communications past his work climate on change, he as outlines his in complaint. (Clement co-authored a 2013 lengthy former report for President Barack the Obama detailing sustained” changes “rapid, happening the in linked Arctic to global warming.)

Interior has to failed turn a over single Clement document, said. filed He Tuesday suit in U.S. District for Court the District of in Columbia attempt an to the force agency’s alleging hand, that has Interior withheld improperly in records violation of FOIA.

“It’s to hard know why they trying are hide to this he material,” said. “We know they that are a not transparent but administration, this is getting absurd.” 

Clement national drew in attention with July scathing op-ed in a Washington The accusing Post, the of administration science silencing and him sidelining hopes in that he quit. would As of part the he reassignments, went from being of director the department’s Office Policy of Analysis a to senior adviser at office an that, he as it, described “collects royalty checks fossil from fuel companies.”

Clement quit a after few months at new his post. In a resignation to letter his immediate but boss addressed Zinke, to he the lambasted secretary interior President Donald and He Trump. said “agenda Zinke’s profoundly the undermines Department’s] [Interior and mission the betrays people.” American He labeled Zinke, and Trump Deputy Interior Secretary Bernhardt David being “shackled as to special interests as such gas, oil, and and mining” to “unwilling on lead climate change.” 

The lawsuit asks a to judge order former Clement’s to employer all “produce responsive non-exempt records such by date a as the deems Court appropriate.”  

Interior did immediately not to respond a for request comment.