Norton slammed for 'improper' request
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A federal judge today criticized Secretary of Interior Gale Norton for making an "improper" request to circumvent a court order and disclose private trust data to Congress and the American public.

"Secretary Norton has demonstrated once again her total inability to understand the role of a trustee in relation to a beneficiary by seeking to release to Congress -- knowing it will be made public -- the confidential financial information of these beneficiaries," U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth wrote.

The order prevents Norton from releasing the Ernst & Young report containing account balances and other personal information about the assets of four of the five named plaintiffs in the Cobell Individual Indian Money (IIM) class action. Norton's legal team had sought permission to disclose the document, saying two Congressional committees had asked for it.

Of the House Resources Committee and the House Interior Appropriations subcommittee, Lamberth wrote: "Either committee of Congress is fine to seek to have this court" release the report. But he added he would not "entertain a totally improper request from Secretary Norton."

The Department of Interior did not have an immediate comment about the order.

Just yesterday, Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the ranking member on the House Resources Committee, had warned Norton not to release the report.

Get the Order:
Order on Motion to Modify Protective Order (2/5)

Today on Indianz.Com:
Norton criticized on private trust report (2/5)
Trust drives small increase in BIA budget (2/5)
Interior security funds outlined (2/5)

Relevant Links:
Ernst & Young -
House Resources Committee -
Indian Trust, Department of Interior -
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -
Trust Reform, NCAI -

Related Stories:
Norton renews push on private trust data (2/1)
House panel to hold hearings on trust fund (12/5)
Partisan debate emerges over BIA overhaul (11/28)
Rahall: No Thanksgiving in Indian Country (11/21)
Top Democrat calls for hearings on BIA proposal (11/16)
Norton seeking to expose trust fund data (9/28)