“Through a series of appointments that appear to have bypassed the Appointments Clause of the Constitution and the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, the officials leading those agencies — the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement — have been nonpolitical career staff or political officials chosen by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt or his predecessor, Ryan Zinke. A red flag for the administration emerged Sept. 25 in a case that Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat running for Senate, filed against the administration. Federal Judge Brian Morris, an Obama appointee, ruled in a 34-page opinion that William Perry Pendley, the top BLM official, had served “unlawfully” as the acting BLM director for 424 days.
Peter Jenkins, a lawyer with the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a nonpartisan watchdog group, spotted a pattern after Morris’ first Pendley ruling. The leaders of the NPS and OSMRE, who had been using the phrase “acting” in their official titles, stopped, he said.”