The Biden administration is facing yet another significant controversy, as an ethics watchdog organization has initiated a probe into potential influence-peddling and rules violations at the recent wedding of a member of the president’s Cabinet, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, as Breitbart reports.
Requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) were recently filed by Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) in order to obtain records and documentation relating to Haaland’s wedding to longtime partner Skip Sayre late last month.
According to the records request, the watchdog group is specifically looking for information regarding “potential attendance by prohibited sources and improperly reported gifts,” Breitbart added.
In a press released issued by the group, those behind the FOIA request stated, “While we offer our congratulations to the Secretary, we remain committed to carrying out our mission, which requires us to protect the public’s trust that senior government officials are carrying out their duties in an objective, transparent and compliant manner.”
Notably, the group made particular reference to the fact that federal officials such as Haaland are prohibited from keeping gifts valued at more than $390 received during their time in office, and further pointed to additional federal guidance stating that someone in Haaland’s position could not accept gifts worth more than $20 from “prohibited sources” such as those looking to do business or obtain favorable treatment from the Department of the Interior.
The group further underscored the fact that the Constitution itself prevents Americans from accepting gifts from foreign governments and that all such prohibitions related to gifts given to Haaland were also necessarily imputed to her new husband.
PPT declared the nuptials to be “an occasion for celebration,” but added that it also offered a chance for “those so inclined” to make an end-run around rules designed to “protect the interests of the American public,” according to the outlet.
The Haaland—Sayre wedding courted additional criticism over the fact that, despite assurances from the secretary’s spokesperson that the event would be in compliance with COVID-19 protocols and that guests needed to be masked and vaccinated, photos posted to social media showed the bride herself partying indoors and without a facial covering, according to The Hill.
Given the propensity – and in the case of this wedding, a demonstrated willingness – for Democrats such as Haaland to adopt a “rules for thee, but not for me” approach to life, the PPT’s efforts to compel heightened transparency about gifts and potential influence-peddling seem more than justified.