Dems demand details on acting Interior Secretary Bernhardt's meetings

U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt waits to speak during the annual state of Colorado energy luncheon sponsored by the Colorado Petroleum council Thursday, July 26, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Washingotn (CNN)Congressional Democrats are demanding to know who acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has met with on the job, seeking to fill holes in what they say are vague calendars.

Like his predecessor, Ryan Zinke, Bernhardt's calendar has described his appointments in vague terms, such as "external meeting" or "call," but leaving out other parties.
The letter, sent Thursday from House Natural Resources chairman Raul Grijalva, suggests the highly limited disclosures make it difficult to determine whether or not Bernhardt has indeed steered clear of meetings he is prohibited from attending under ethics rules.
More than 150 entries from August 2017 through September 2018 "failed to include either a description of the meeting topic or the non-DOI attendees," the letter says, including 98 entries described as "External Meeting."
    Since his confirmation as deputy secretary in July 2017, Bernhardt has spearheaded some of the department's most controversial work, including an expansion of oil drilling projects on public lands. On Monday, President Donald Trump announced he would nominate Bernhardt for the secretary job, which also requires Senate confirmation.
    Bernhardt has carried with him, according to the Washington Post, a credit card-sized list of the multiple companies and issues he represented as a lobbyist and is barred from personally working on.
    "Acting Secretary Bernhardt is looking at all the cabinet secretaries' schedules and intends to adopt best practices," Interior spokeswoman Faith Vander Voort told CNN. "He has no problem with his calendar being available to the public."
    Bernhardt's calendars contain at least one verifiable omission, according to Grilajva's letter.
    Zinke and Bernhardt were scheduled to attend the same August 2017 meeting, which Zinke's calendar notes was with several lobbyists and consultants.
      But Bernhardt's calendar entry -- otherwise identical -- does not include the attendee list. Grijalva wrote, "both entries should be identical unless altered or withheld."
      In a series of reports dating to last summer, CNN revealed omissions on Zinke's calendar. In addition to vague meeting descriptions, the reports highlighted discrepancies between Zinke's calendars and other descriptions of his time, such as emails and memos, released under the Freedom of Information Act.