Interior attorney accused of disclosing trust data

The Interior Department is moving to fire an attorney who is accused of disclosing Indian trust data to the media.

Robert McCarthy, a field solicitor in southern California, acknowledged that he gave information about the Indian trust to a reporter for Gannett News Service. He was cited as a source in an April 10, 2007, story titled "Probe: Local Indian Affairs Office Troubled" that appeared in The Palm Springs Desert Sun.

The story said trust management problems that were documented 15 years ago by DOI's Inspector General remain uncorrected. It quoted a McCarthy memo that said Indian landowners were losing a "substantial amount of trust income" due to the Bureau of Indian Affairs' inaction.

In response, Interior's Office of the Solicitor conducted an investigation and accused McCarthy of violating the Trade Secrets Act. The office said he disclosed confidential Indian trust data, such as names of landowners, and provided non-public data that undermined the BIA, his client as field solicitor.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility is defending McCarthy as a whistle blower. The group says he is being punished for exposing trust management problems of the kind at issue in the Cobell case.

McCarthy used to work as a field solicitor in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In two unusual press releases to Indianz.Com, he admitted the BIA failed to collect rent on a Choctaw allotment but defended his efforts to lease the property at a public action.

Get the Story:
Attorney may be dismissed (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 8/31)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Kempthorne -
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice -

Related Stories:
BIA office in Palm Springs criticized by landowners (4/11)
BIA office in Palm Springs under investigation (4/10)