Ethics issue behind us, Swimmer tells OST
The Office of Special Trustee has addressed concerns about preferential treatment, Special Trustee Ross Swimmer said in a memo to employees.

In July 2006, the Interior Department's Inspector General released a report that detailed numerous social contacts between top OST officials and an accounting firm. As the officials were showered with meals, drinks, golf rounds and out-of-state trips, the firm's contract grew to $6.6 million, the report said.

Swimmer ordered ethics training for the three officials -- Donna Erwin, the number two at OST, and two of her top aides, brothers Doug and Jeff Lords -- and additional training for all OST managers. OST contracting decisions are being made by DOI's National Business Center in Denver, he noted.

"Today, I firmly believe that in the year sine the report was released, we have put this issue behind us," Swimmer said in a June 22 memo [PDF].

Swimmer said KRQE TV of New Mexico plans to air a segment about the ethics issue next month. Investigative reporter Larry Barker interviewed Swimmer, Erwin and the Lords brothers about the ethics issue raised by the Inspector General.

"We appreciated this opportunity to assure Mr. Marker that the report has been adequately addressed and that processes are in place to avoid even the appearance of preferential treatment for a contractor," Swimmer said.

Inspector General Report:
Allegations Concerning Senior Officials of the Office of Special Trustee for American Indians (May 2005)

Relevant Links:
Office of Special Trustee - http://www.ost.doi.gov

Related Stories:
Accounting firm defends social relations with OST (07/27)
OST contract tied to favors to top officials (7/25)
OST officials awarded $6.6M contract to friends (7/24)