August 29th, 2007
Indianz.com reports that 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, admits that he gave informationÂ 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. 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.Â ItsÂ web pageÂ contains links toÂ documents on this issue.McCarthy used to work as a field solicitor in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In a series of 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.