Trump ap­pointee forced to re­sign

Scathing re­port shows loan pro­gram he over saw led to law­suits

The Mercury News - - News - By Juliet Eilperin

WASH­ING­TON >> Gavin Clark­son, a se­nior Bureau of In­dian Af­fairs of­fi­cial ap­pointed by In­te­rior Sec­re­tary Ryan Zinke in June, re­signed Mon­day af­ter the depart­ment’s in­spec­tor gen­eral is­sued a scathing re­port on the loan pro­gram he over­saw.

Clark­son, who served as deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for pol­icy and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, ran a pro­gram that guar­an­tees loans for tribal busi­nesses. When Zinke ap­pointed Clark­son on June 11, he said in a state­ment that his “ex­per­tise in the ar­eas of law, fi­nance and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment are a valu­able as­set . . . as we work to­gether with tribes to in­crease eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity and pro­mote self-de­ter­mi­na­tion through­out In­dian Coun­try.”

But be­fore join­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, Clark­son served as a con­sul­tant for tribes that re­ceived loans un­der the pro­gram, in­clud­ing a con­tro­ver­sial $22.5 mil­lion loan for the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe that helped fi­nance the pur­chase of a bro­ker­age firm that even­tu­ally went un­der. As a re­sult, the In­te­rior Depart­ment is now be­ing sued over its re­fusal to guar­an­tee the re­main­ing $20 mil­lion bal­ance on the loan.

Clark­son’s deal­ings with the tribe were the sub­ject of a de­tailed re­port pub­lished by Hu­man Rights Watch in 2015, as well as news re­ports. The in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­port scru­ti­nized how the loan pro­gram was run un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, for which Clark­son worked as a tribal eco­nomic con­sul­tant.

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