Thursday, June 7, 2007

Julie MacDonald Awarded $9,628 Special Thanks Payment in 2005

Regular readers will know I rarely write about politics (I try to stay positive), but this report was too much for me to ignore.

Julie MacDonald, the recently disgraced deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks at the Department of the Interior (DOI), was given a Special Thanks for Achieving Results award of $9,628.

The payment was just short of the $10,000 threshold that would have triggered a review by the Office of Personnel Management. What's more, the current administration's fingerprints are all over it: "The document obtained by ESWR says only 'ERB approval and White House clearance certified by White House Liaison on 2/10/05.'"

That was three weeks after George W. Bush had been inaugurated for a second time. Political appointees are barred from receiving cash awards from June 1 of a presidential election year to the following Jan. 20.

"It is absolutely disgusting that MacDonald was awarded thousands of dollars for suppressing scientific research and trashing endangered species," said Kieran Suckling, policy director of the Center for Biological Diversity. "MacDonald was financially rewarded for breaking the law and driving species to the brink of extinction. I've never seen anything so cynical in my life."

Nature has also picked up the story (unfortunately, not open access).

Emma Marris writes in the Nature article: "The report, by the DOI’s office of inspector general, paints a portrait of a woman determined to minimize the Endangered Species Act’s effect on the economy. It includes evidence from colleagues that she heavily edited science reports from the field despite having no formal scientific training, and bullied and intimidated field scientists into producing documents along the lines she wanted. Observers say the case highlights how appointees of President George W. Bush can and have pushed political agendas within federal agencies."

Later in Marris' article is this stunner: "The report outlines how [MacDonald] sent internal departmental documents to a friend in the game World of Warcraft 'to have another set of eyes give an unfiltered opinion of them'."

To top it all off, MacDonald is being investigated by congress "for her role in removing the Sacramento splittail fish from the endangered species list. MacDonald owns a farm in a floodplain that is a habitat for the fish, according to an investigation by the Contra Costa Times, a newspaper in California." If this isn't a conflict of interest, I don't know what is.

More here at this article from the ESWR newsletter.


  1. Every time I think I've heard it all, something like this surfaces.

  2. it pays to be a loyal bushie

  3. John--

    Thanks for the mention.

    I'm the reporter who did the article on MacDonald's award. BTW, is not a blog -- it's a news story posted by Endangered Species & Wetlands Report, which has been published (by me) since 1995.

    Steve Davies
    Editor/Publisher, ESWR

  4. Steve--
    Thanks for the excellent reporting. You are a credit to the profession.