BLM Special Agent Dan Love Subject of Yet Another Congressional Inquiry

 

Dan Love 5“As a federal law enforcement officer, Love’s actions have the potential to not only taint your investigation, but to seriously undermine the trust in BLM’s law enforcement office and thwart congressional oversight of the Bureau. As such, I request that you investigate the specific allegations raised in your interviews of destruction of federal records, witness tampering, and obstruction of a congressional investigation.”

by Marjorie Haun — Reposted from Free Range Report

On Valentines day, the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform wrote a letter responding to the Department of Interior’s Inspector General’s report on the “numerous instances of troubling behavior exhibited by (Dan) Love.”

The investigation of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agent, Dan Love, has been ongoing and complex. With a history of complaints against Love of bullying, overly-aggressive tactics, ethics violations, and now, tampering, lies, and cover-ups, it appears that the most infamous figure in recent BLM history is now under the scrutiny of Congress’ most powerful investigative arm. The House Oversight Committee, headed by Jason Chaffetz, cites extremely serious, potentially-criminal activities, that go beyond Love’s ethics breaches related to the Burning Man controversy of 2015, or his extreme mishandling of the Operation Cerberus and Bundy Ranch cases. Love’s possible criminal activities include; destruction of federal records, witness tampering, and obstruction of a congressional investigation.

The letter from Oversight to Interior Department Deputy Inspector General, Mary L. Kendall, details many of the complaints, and instances of possible criminal activity by Love:

I understand your office initiated this investigation in October of 2015 after receiving numerous complaints concerning Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employee Daniel Paul Love. The report documents numerous instances of troubling behavior exhibited by Love (excerpts taken from letter):

  • Your report documents that a witness told your investigators that after receiving a congressional request for documents, the witness heard Dan Love “say to [another BLM employee] that [said BLM employee] needed to make sure that he scrubbed the emails before he sent them, you know, flagging anything that looked inappropriate so that [Dan Love] could remove them if needed.”

  • …a witness testifies about how  BLM employee accessed and “deleted hundreds of documents” from a shared network. The deleted documents were “team documents” which served as the “historical record or administrative record” for a BLM authorized event. The witness stated the deleted documents were subject to the Federal Records Act, and were required, under the law not to be destroyed.

  • The timing of the deletion of federal records raises questions. In your report, a witnexx notes a BLM employee “deleted hundreds of documents” on February 3, 2016, only to receive a congressional request for those same documents the very next fay. The witness states that “it just seemed odd to [her]that on February 3rd a lot of documents were removed or deleted from the Google drive, and then the next day [BLM is] hit with th[e] congressional” inquiry.

  • It also raises questions that former BLM Director Neil Kornze was provided, as a courtesy, advance notice of the congressional document request prior to February 3rd. We must find out which BLM employees were aware of an impending congressional inquiry when they set about deleting potentially responsive federal records.

  • Your report documents that Love allegedly attempted to influence the outcome of your investigation by coaching a witness in advance of an interview with your investigators. In your investigative report, you state a specific occasion when “Dan Love called [a BLM employee] and…essentially gave [said BLM employee] talking points for any questions that may come up during his interview” with your office.

  • The report states Love provide that same BLM employee with “rationalizations,” leading the employee to believe Love was essentially telling them what to say in the interview. This allegation is problematic as it occurred after you had already initiated your investigation into Love’s behavior.

  • As a federal law enforcement officer, Love’s actions have the potential to not only taint your investigation, but to seriously undermine the trust in BLM’s law enforcement office and thwart congressional oversight of the Bureau. As such, I request that you investigate the specific allegations raised in your interviews of destruction of federal records, witness tampering, and obstruction of a congressional investigation.

The letter (below) is signed by Chairman of the Oversight Committee, Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz, and Blake Farenhold, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy and Environment. [PDF]

To read their letter, CLICK HERE.

As reported in Energy & Environment, Greenwire News: 

According to Energy & Environment’s Greenwire News, Republican leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are urging the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General to determine whether Bureau of Land Management agents broke the law by interfering with a recent investigation. 

Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy and Environment, are particularly focused on “numerous incidents of troubling behavior” allegedly committed by Dan Love during a probe of his behavior related to the Burning Man festival.

Love is the BLM official who oversaw security during the failed roundup of Cliven Bundy’s cattle that led to an armed standoff in 2014. Questions about Love, who was later promoted to BLM’s special agent in charge of security, protection and intelligence, loomed large as the prosecution of Bundy’s associates got underway last week (Greenwire, Feb. 6).

Days before the trial began, an IG report found that Love violated federal ethics rules by abusing his position to obtain special access to Burning Man for his family and pressured subordinates to hire his friend (Greenwire, Feb. 2).

The lawmakers are now asking Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall to “investigate the specific allegations raised in your interviews of destruction of federal records, witness tampering, and obstruction of a congressional investigation.”

They pointed to claims from witnesses quoted in the IG report that Love instructed BLM employees to scrub emails, “flagging anything that looked inappropriate so that [Love] could remove them if needed.” Another alleged that a BLM employee “deleted hundreds of documents” from a shared network on Feb. 3, 2016.

“If substantiated, these attempts to conceal documents and destroy federal records responsive to a congressional inquiry are unlawful, as it is a federal crime to obstruct a congressional investigation or falsify, conceal or cover up a material fact in one,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter, which was sent to Kendall earlier this week and publicly released this afternoon.

The laws Love may have broken carry maximum sentences of five to eight years behind bars.

Chaffetz and Farenthold also raised questions about the timing of the document destruction. They noted that former BLM Director Neil Kornze was given advance notice of the committee’s document request.

“We must find out which BLM employees were aware of an impending congressional inquiry when they set about deleting potentially responsive federal records,” the lawmakers said.

Finally, the letter said Love purportedly coached a witness before that person met with the inspectors.

“This allegation is problematic as it occurred after you had already initiated your investigation into Love’s behavior,” they said to the deputy IG.

“As a federal law enforcement officer, Love’s actions have the potential to not only taint your investigation, but to seriously undermine the trust in BLM’s law enforcement office and thwart congressional oversight of the Bureau,” Chaffetz and Farenthold concluded.

Love’s involvement in the Bundy standoff continues to be a challenge for federal prosecutors.

A defense attorney who represents one of the Bundy associates on trial grilled BLM special agent Rand Stover about his former boss earlier this week.

Stover hesitated when Todd Leventhal, who represents defendant O. Scott Drexler, asked him whether he would have filed an internal complaint if he had seen Love “do something unethical.”

“Well, I had other problems,” Stover said, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

After prosecutors objected, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro did not allow Stover to elaborate. But the IG report said Love threatened employees who considered reporting wrongdoing.