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For Immediate Release, May 25, 2007

Contact: Kieran Suckling, Center for Biological Diversity, (520) 275-5960

Julie MacDonald Awarded $9,628 Special Thanks Payment in 2005:
Steven Griles & Lynn Scarlett on Panel That Illegally Awarded Cash Without Documentation

The Endangered Species and Wetlands Report has obtained documents through the Freedom of Information Act showing that Julie MacDonald, the disgraced and recently retired Deputy Secretary of Interior, was given a cash award of $9,628 in 2005 for her work in 2004. MacDonald resigned earlier this month after the release of a Department of Interior Inspector General Report exposing her bullying U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists, doctoring scientific reports, and passing sensitive information to industry lawyers and lobbyists.

2004 was a banner year for MacDonald. She:
- stripped 80 percent of protected areas from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service critical habitat proposal for the bull trout (a threatened fish from CA, OR, and WA);
- stripped thousands of acres from agency critical habitat proposals for the Topeka shiner (an endangered Midwestern fish), Peirson's milk-vetch (an endangered CA plant), and the California tiger salamander;
- overruled and rewrote scientists' reports in order to deny endangered species protection to the greater sage grouse (a western high plains bird);
- passed memos to industry lawyers in litigation to remove the Delta smelt from the endangered species list;
- aided Craig Manson, Assistant Secretary of Interior, in overruling agency scientists in order to push the marbled murrelet (a Northwest old-growth dependent bird) off the threatened list.

"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."

Contrary to Department of Interior Policy, the Special Thanks for Achieving Results award does not contain of any documentation of what MacDonald did to deserve the award. The payment was just short of the $10,000 threshold that would have triggered a review by the Office of Personnel Management.

MacDonald's award was approved by the Department of Interior's Executive Resources Board. According to Endangered Species and Wetlands Report: "In 2004, the ERB would have included [Lynn] Scarlett (who was AS-PMB), Waidmann, Bernhardt (then the deputy chief of staff and counselor to Norton), Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles, and Solicitor Sue Ellen Wooldridge. Wooldridge and Griles married this year, shortly after Wooldridge resigned from the Justice Department, where she was the assistant attorney general, Environment and Natural Resources. Her departure came shortly after Griles was informed that he could face criminal charges in connection with his relationship with convicted former lobbyist Jack Abramoff." After refusing requests by Congress to review illegal Endangered Species Act decisions issued by MacDonald, Scarlett was recently advised to resign by Jay Inslee (D-WA).

"Wooldridge, Griles, and MacDonald all resigned from the Department of Interior in disgrace," said Suckling. "It's time for Scarlett to resign too. The Department will not recover its reputation until the entire cancerous cell is removed."

A detailed blog chronicling the award:

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