Douglas Domenech: Trump administration official used role for private gain, report says

Louise Hall

A senior Trump administration official misused his office for private gain, investigators said in a report obtained by the Associated Press.

Assistant Interior Secretary Douglas Domenech was found by investigators to have capitalised on his position to advocate for a family member when they were seeking a job at Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the report, which detailed the investigation ahead of public release, Mr Domenech used his government connections to reach out to an EPA official on a number of occasions.

The Interior Department’s Inspector General found that Mr Domenech reached out to the official both in person and later by email in 2017.

The contact between Mr Domenech and the EPA official began at a concert at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Virginia in the fall of 2017, the report said.

While at the Wolf Trap concert, Mr Domenech sat with the official and “used his position to gain access to the EPA senior official when he believed family member 1 could not,” the report said.

Mr Domenech did not respond to the AP's request for comment.

The agency’s assistant secretary for insular and international affairs told investigators that the emails he sent to the EPA official to follow up on the initial meeting was only a courtesy to move the process along.

“When asked if moving the process along was a way to influence the EPA hiring process, Mr Domenech said, ‘Well, when I think of influencing ... I guess you’re right. I was trying to influence the process to move along. That’s different than influencing the process to hire',” the report said.

Investigators also said Mr Domenech seemed to have misused his position to promote another family member’s wedding-related business to the same official.

The report is the second finding of ethical violations in six months against Mr Domenech, after investigations found in December that he broke federal ethics rules by meeting twice with his former employer to discuss legal disputes.

No criminal violations were found against him according to the report. Interior spokesman Nicholas Goodwin said that he was required to undergo additional ethics training as a result of the finding,

The identity of the senior EPA official was not disclosed in the report and EPA’s media office did not immediately respond to the AP.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

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