The following requires no set-up from me. It is from the Center for American Progress' Progress Report, 5/2/2007.
ETHICS -- CONTROVERSIAL INTERIOR DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL RESIGNS: Julie A. MacDonald, a senior Bush political appointee at the Interior Department, resigned yesterday ahead of her upcoming appearance before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The committee is set to hold a hearing next week "on accusations that she violated the Endangered Species Act, censored science and mistreated staff of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service." A civil engineer with no training in biology, MacDonald, as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, often overruled and disparaged the findings of scientists on her staff, instead relying on the recommendations of political and industry groups to decide which imperiled animals and plants should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Under MacDonald and other Bush administration appointees, just 56 species have been listed under the Endangered Species Act as of Nov. 2006, a rate of about 10 a year. Under President Clinton, officials listed 512 species, or 64 a year, and under President George H.W. Bush, the department listed 234, or 59 a year. MacDonald's departure also "came as the agency was discussing plans to demote her," an Interior Department official told the Washington Post. In a report by the inspector general of the Interior Department earlier this year, MacDonald was chastised for "disclosing confidential documents to 'private sector sources' such as the Pacific Legal Foundation and the California Farm Bureau Federation, both of which have challenged endangered-species listings." Environmental groups praised her departure. "Increasing transparency in the decision-making process would make other political appointees think twice before altering or distorting scientific documents," said Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.