Senior Deputy Director for the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs
Benjamin Cassidy joined the Department of the Interior in October 2017 as Senior Deputy Director for Intergovernmental and External Affairs. “The Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs (OIEA) strengthens relationships between state and local partners and external stakeholders with” Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office and “serves as liaison for governmental and non-governmental partners in communicating with Departmental offices and the Bureaus.” Cassidy quietly left the department in July 2019.
Before joining the Department of the Interior, Benjamin Cassidy worked for nearly seven years as a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association (NRA) in Washington, D.C. He previously worked as a “Young Guns Liaison” for the National Republican Congressional Committee in Washington, D.C. Cassidy holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.
Sources: [Department of the Interior, Press Release, 10/10/17, Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Department of the Interior, accessed 10/23/17, Wayne LaPierre, “Identifying NRA Lobbyists Walking The Halls of Congress,” Roll Call, 04/22/13, and LinkedIn Profile for Benjamin Cassidy, accessed 10/20/17, “Revealed: top official did special favors on guns for NRA at interior department,” Guardian, 01/23/20]
National Rifle Association (Resource Development on Public Lands)
Benjamin Cassidy worked as a Federal Liaison for the National Rifle Association, which has received significant contributions from oil and gas interests.
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In April 2019, the Interior Department Inspector General opened an investigation into whether Cassidy and five other Trump appointees at Interior violated federal ethics rules by engaging with their former employers or clients on department-related business.
Calendars released by Interior show Cassidy participating in a December 2017 meeting regarding Trump’s decision to scale back two national monuments in Utah, even though Cassidy had lobbied Congress on a bill addressing the president’s ability to establish national monuments just months earlier. This activity, first reported by HuffPost, could violate the federal ethics pledge because Cassidy was prohibited from engaging in particular matters on which he had lobbied during the two years before joining the department. Cassidy, a former National Rifle Association lobbyist, had also been in contact with a current NRA lobbyist, Susan Recce, about opening up Bureau of Land Management lands in Arizona and Utah to recreational shooting. Interior ultimately decided to allow recreational shooting in the Sonoran Desert National Monument, the option endorsed by the NRA.
[Juliet Eilperin and Dino Grandoni, “Six Trump Interior appointees are being investigated for possible ethical misconduct“, The Washington Post, 04/23/19]