During Sen. Steve Daines’ stops in Missoula and Kalispell Monday, he was asked whether he supports the Bureau of Land Management's acting Director, William Perry Pendley. Pendley’s past support for the sale of public lands concerns many, but Daines called that concern “overblown.”
U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt late last month ordered Pendley, who serves as deputy director, to lead BLM in an acting role. The former private property rights lawyer has a history of advocating for the sale of public lands. That’s been a cause for concern for environmental and sportsman groups as well as others.
Missoula House Rep. Marilyn Marler was outside of Sen. Daines’ event in Missoula Monday holding a sign that read "No Pendley, No land transfers." Marler says she’s heard Daines say that he opposes selling public lands, but, “I hear a mixed message because actions speak louder than words, and I don’t see him opposing the Pendley appointment.”
Inside, Daines deflected a question about his silence on whether he supports Pendley.
“And you have a director, the Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt, who has been adamant in opposition of the transfer of federal land to the states. Remember, if he were to be confirmed, he serves underneath the secretary, who has been very clear, without stuttering, on this issue,” Daines said.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that BLM Deputy Director of Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley will undergo a Senate confirmation hearing. Pendley will not need to be confirmed in his position.
Daines was pressed again at a smaller event in Kalispell later Monday, but he said he said he would refrain from voicing his full opinion until he interviews Pendley.
"I’ve not come out against him," Daines said. "I’ll have a chance to interview him, make a decision, but I’ve not found a reason to be against him yet. But I have not come out for him either."
Daines called opposition to Pendley’s appointment "overblown," and reiterated that the right checks and balances will prevent him from selling off large swaths of public land.
Pendley is currently serving in an acting role as director of BLM, but he will not need to be confirmed in his role as deputy director of the agency. MTPR reached out to Daines to clarify his comments, but did not hear back. Pendley's role as acting director is set to expire at the end of September.