Fish Sniffer Digital Edition Issue 3624 Nov 10-24 2017 - Page 5

VOL.36 • ISS. 24 3 Nov. 10 - 24, 2017 Hey Dan! — Letters To The Editor What’s on your mind? Do you have something you’d like to share with us and our readers? A picture... a story... a question to ask, or an answer to another? COVER STORY Let’s hear your compliments, or your gripes! Whatever it is, send it to: HEY, DAN!, c/o Fish Sniffer Publications, The Fish Sniffer - P.O. Box 776, Colfax, CA 95713, or you can now e-mail it at danielbacher@fishsniffer.com. Please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope for the return of pictures or text. Thanks! House Democrats Seek GAO Investigation into Federal Scheme to Fund Delta Tunnels Project Hey Dan! Led by Reps. Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the Natural Resources Committee’s Ranking Member, six House Democrats are calling on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to open a new investigation into the misuse of taxpayer funds by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation, fol- lowing last month’s revelations that tens of millions of dollars were secretly spent by the federal agency to subsidize private interests and help develop plans for a mas- sive new California water project. In its September audit, the Interior Department’s Inspector General found that the Bureau of Reclamation improperly subsidized the planning process for the California WaterFix project, also known as the “Delta Tunnels.” The audit identi- fied at least $84 million in taypayer funds spent without disclosure to Congress as required by law, and kept hidden from other water users, stakeholders, and the public. According to the Inspector Gener- al, at least $50 million of this total should have been paid by the local water agencies that sought to benefit from the massive infrastructure project, such as the pow- erful Westlands Water District. Instead, those costs were secretly reassigned by the Bureau of Reclamation so that taxpayers would pay most of the water districts’ share. With today’s letter, the lawmakers are asking the GAO, the federal watchdog agency that conducts investigations and audits on behalf of Congress, to issue a legal opinion about the Bureau of Recla- mation’s funding scheme. The penalty for this type of misuse of public money can include removal from office. The Inspector General’s audit found that the controversial funding plan was first launched in 2008, during the period when David Bernhardt was the depart- ment’s top lawyer. Upon leaving the department, Bernhardt became one of the top lobbyists for the Westlands Water Dis- trict, the major beneficiary of this funding plan. He has now returned to the Interior Department as Deputy Secretary. In re- sponses to the Inspector General, Interior Department staff have indicated that there are no plans to recoup these millions of dollars in taxpayer funds that were spent without authorization or rationale. In addition to Rep. Huffman and Rep. Grijalva, the letter was also signed by Mike Thompson (D-CA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), and Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA). The full text of the letter is below. ~Alexa Shaffer, Communica- tions Director, Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-02) CALIFORNIA-NEVADA EDITION “The No.1 Newspaper Dedicated Entirely To Northern California Sportsmen!” Published By NORTHERN CALIFORNIA ANGLER PUBLICATIONS, INC. The Fish Sniffer P.O. Box 776, Colfax, CA 95713 Toll-Free (800) 748-6599 www.fishsniffer.com CAL KELLOGG’S E-MAIL: calkellogg@.fishsniffer.com EDITORIAL E-MAIL: danielbacher@.fishsniffer.com The Honorable Gene L. Dodaro Comptroller General of the United States U.S. Government Accountability Office 441 G Street, NW Washington, DC 20548 Dear Comptroller General Dodaro, The Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General, (DOI OIG), recently issued a report regarding the Bureau of Reclamation’s (USBR) spending on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) – a state- led effort involving the construction of new water diversion facilities benefitting select water contractors in the state of California. See DOI OIG, Report No. 2016‑WR‑040, The Bureau of Reclamation Was Not Trans- parent in its Financial Participation in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (Sept. 7, 2017) (DOI OIG Report). In its report, the DOI OIG found that USBR “did not fully dis- close to Congress and other stakeholders the $84.8 million cost of its participation in the BDCP efforts.” DOI OIG Report, at 1. 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