WASHINGTON – A government official broke federal rules and should face punishment for leaking information about endangered species to private groups, the Interior Department’s watchdog said.
The department’s deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks acknowledged releasing information that was not supposed to be made public to organizations such as the California Farm Bureau Federation and Pacific Legal Foundation, according to the agency’s inspector general.
Environmentalists and other critics contend Julie MacDonald undermined endangered species protections. In the report by Earl Devaney, Interior Department officials describe MacDonald as a political appointee bent on manipulating science to fit her policy goals, which they said favor developers and industry.
Interior Department spokeswoman Tina Kreisher said MacDonald was not immediately available for comment Thursday.
Rep. Nick Rahall, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said he would hold a hearing in May about the report and the broader issues it raises.
The findings were first reported in Thursday’s New York Times.