12 February 2018


Official draws scrutiny of his own after a career of working for scandal-plagued bosses.

Doug Domenech, a top official at the Department of the Interior, worked as a political appointee at the agency during the George W. Bush administration when it was rife with corruption. The official is now coming under scrutiny for his own questionable actions as a Trump administration appointee.

A month after winning confirmation to serve as assistant secretary for insular affairs at the Interior Department in September 2017, Domenech purchased between $15,001 and $50,000 worth of shares in Compass Minerals, a mining company that does business with the department, Politico reported Monday. In 2017, the Interior Department, for example, paid the company $15,000 on a contract.

As assistant secretary for insular areas, Domenech coordinates federal policy for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The office also is responsible for administering and overseeing grant assistance to the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau.

Compass Minerals produces salt, potash, and fertilizers. Along with the Interior Department, the company has won contracts with the departments of Defense, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs over the past seven years. Domenech was confirmed to his position at the Interior Department on September 18 and reportedly purchased the shares in Compass Minerals in late October.

Last fall, Domenech also sold more than $15,000 in shares of Chevron. However, he still owns shares in pipeline company Enbridge Inc. and smaller stakes in pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners and refiner Valero Energy, according to Politico.

Domenech’s investments raise questions about conflict of interest and whether the Interior Department will steer contracts to these companies or implement policies that could boost the companies’ share value. Last week, Trump’s head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resigned on the heels of a Politico report that she had purchased stock in a tobacco company soon after taking her job, which oversees smoking-cessation programs.

The Interior Department had not responded to a request for comment from ThinkProgress at the time this article was published. Politico reported that Compass Minerals does not do business in the Virgin Islands or other territories that Domenech directly oversees.

Domenech’s bosses have faced serious corruption charges at each step of his career in government. Most recently, Domenech served as secretary of natural resources in Virginia under Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), where the governor was a vocal supporter of drilling off the Virginia coastline. McDonnell was convicted of public corruption charges in 2014 for receiving gifts from a political donor and was sentenced to two years in prison. But the former governor never served any time after the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the sentence.