Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is on the hot seat because he reassigned and replaced dozens of career officials and, as it turns out, a significant number of officials he removed were Native Americans.
It would be illegal to remove career officials (not political appointees) from their positions because of their political views or race, but the Inspector General could not determine if that's why they were removed.
The Inspector General could not determine if they were removed because of their political views or race, thus breaking federal law, because the reason for removing them wasn't even recorded. Moreover, it appears that some officials were removed from their positions without even speaking to them.
In the report, Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall describes a haphazard process used to select senior executive service (SES) officials for reassignment.
“The Executive Resources Board did not gather the information needed to make informed decisions about the reassignments, nor did it effectively communicate with the SES members or with most managers affected by the reassignments,” she noted. “One ERB member told us that the ERB members only discussed senior executives who they knew or had experience with and that there was not much thought or discussion given to reassigning senior executives they did not know. When we asked the ERB members who in the Department leadership ordered the reassignment of senior executives, no one could provide an answer.”
The Inspector General may not be been able to find a piece of paper that confirms it, but I can't think of any other plausible reason why Native Americans would be singled out and purged from their positions.
It's not a secret that Zinke is steering the department and the federal lands it governs into the arms of extraction industries and private interests that want to plunder national parks, monuments, and tribal lands.
Zinke is every bit the mirror of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt. Both men believe it's their duty to protect the industry from federal regulation, not to protect the land from industry. Like Pruitt, Zinke also shares an affinity for taking expensive flights and trips at the expense of taxpayers for activities that are unethical if not outright illegal.