Joel Clement believes he’s been mistreated by the Trump administration. Up until this last July, he was the director of policy analysis for the Interior Department — a position he had held since January 2011.
Now he’s a senior adviser in the Office of Natural Resource Revenue within the Interior Department. Clement believes that the reassignment was done in retaliation because he used to advocate for policies that addressed the harmful effects of climate change.
A week after starting his new job, Clement filed a complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. He claims that the transfer will “exacerbate the already significant threat to the health and the safety of certain Alaska Native communities.”
According to NPR’s Morning Edition, a number of advocacy groups agree with Mr. Clement.
In a Washington Post opinion piece, the former policy analysis director declared that he is not “an accountant,” but instead a “scientist and policy expert” and that the move to an office that mostly “collects royalty checks from fossil fuel companies” is “a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars.”
Perhaps Mr. Clement is right. Perhaps his background is a poor match for his new position.
A quick look at Clement’s LinkedIn page provides more detail on his work experience before becoming a civil servant. Prior to becoming the director of policy analysis, Clement worked for eight years as a program officer at the Wilburforce Foundation. Charity Navigator states that this is a “Private Grant Making Foundation.”
The organization’s own “Strategic Framework 2025” states that it “funds projects and programs in our priority areas that advance our mission and vision.” This means that those working for Clement’s previous employer didn’t actually do any work in the field. They instead conducted studies, made recommendations, distributed grant money, and reviewed the effectiveness of those allocations.
Given that Mr. Clement’s current job title does not include the words “auditor,” “manager,” or “accountant,” but is instead an “adviser” position, one can be reassured that he is not responsible for balancing books or keeping accounts.
It appears that he would instead be expected to conduct studies, make recommendations, and review the effectiveness of the department’s efforts, which would seem pretty close to what he did before at the Wilburforce Institute. It leads one to wonder whether senior adviser Clement really is an aggrieved individual or an angry advocate who has lost his best platform for injecting climate change policies into the Interior Department.
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