Two weeks ago, the Senate voted to confirm David Bernhardt as the new Secretary of the Interior. An avowed supporter of Maine’s environment, Susan Collins supplied one of those yea votes. Bernhardt is a well known former coal/oil industry lobbyist. The list of companies that he must recuse himself from is so long that he has to carry a list of them with him. Many detractors have felt that his long term allegiances have biased his policies in his previous functioning as Assistant Secretary of the Interior..

Collins has spoken out passionately to conserve Maine’s environment especially its valuable coastline. Prior to the confirmation vote, Angus King asked Bernhardt if Maine could be excluded from states that would be targeted for off-shore drilling. Bernhardt would not give an affirmative answer. And in spite of this, Collins still voted for him. (Editor’s note: King also voted for Bernhardt)

This week, the suspicions of Bernhardt’s improprieties have translated into allegations. The Interior Department’s inspector general has initiated an investigation of Bernhardt’s ethical conflicts after receiving more than eight complaints.

Collins owes her constituents an explanation for her vote for this biased and unethical individual.

Jessica Mahnke

Bath