“The Trump administration’s method of keeping the controversial acting head of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in power even after his nomination is withdrawn is likely not legal, according to experts who have reviewed the orders. Over the weekend, it was made public that William Perry Pendley’s nomination will be withdrawn amid doubts he had the votes to be confirmed. But Pendley is still running the agency because of succession orders dictating that the acting chief will lead the department if the director role remains unfilled. Legal experts say the succession orders are dubious because the officials whose tenure has been questioned are the ones assigning themselves their new positions. The order was written and signed by Pendley, essentially giving himself the authority to act as director.
Two suits, one from Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) and the other from the group Public Employees For Environmental Responsibility (PEER), say keeping Pendley in office violates the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA), which limits how long acting officials can fill vacancies for roles requiring Senate approval.”