FROM THE ARCHIVE
Rahall letter on confidential trust report
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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2002

The following is the text of a letter Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) sent to Secretary of Interior Gale Norton. February 4, 2002.

The Honorable Gale Norton
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20240

Dear Secretary Norton:

The purpose of this letter is to advise you that I do not concur in the request made by Chairman Hansen to you by letter dated January 15, 2002, to submit to the Committee a report compiled by the auditing firm Ernst & Young that is under seal by the Court as part of the Cobell v. Norton lawsuit. This request was made without my knowledge, and in fact, I only recently became aware that it was made.

It is my understanding this report contains confidential financial information relating to the assets of four of the five named plaintiffs in the Cobell litigation. Releasing this type of information to the Committee, and consequently, making it public record would in my view violate the trust responsibility the Interior Department has to these individuals. Certainly, most Americans would not stand for their privacy to be invaded if their bank sought to make every detailed transaction in their checking account public. I view the attempt to make public the Ernst & Young report in the same vein.

Properly maintaining a trust responsibility to the individuals in question requires that this report not be placed into the public domain unless they concur. Your consideration of this matter is appreciated.

With warm regards, I am

Sincerely,

NICK J. RAHALL, II
Ranking Democratic Member

NJR/jz

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Norton criticized on confidential report (2/5)

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