“Their condemnation came in response to an Associated Press report that the Interior Department “is proposing to award one of the first contracts for federal water in perpetuity” to California’s Westlands Water District. The district, which “serves some of country’s wealthiest and most politically influential corporate farmers,” long employed Bernhardt as a lobbyist.
“As a lobbyist, he was involved in negotiations on a contentious 2016 federal law that made the Westlands’ proposed deal possible, allowing water districts to lock up permanent contracts for water from California’s federal water project,” AP noted. That law, which conservationists oppose over concerns for endangered native wildlife, “reshaped the federal handling of water in the U.S. state with the largest economy.”
‘As Corrupt as It Gets’: Oil Lobbyist Turned Interior Chief Proposes Giving ‘Coveted’ Contract to Ex-Client
Critics called on Congress to open an investigation immediately.