This West Is OUR West

Accounts of corruption surrounding BLM director of law enforcement

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Despite improvements under the current administration in the culture and performance of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), there remain holdovers from the past culpable in the kinds of corruption and overreach which have come to define the agency. William Woody currently heads BLM law enforcement, but carries with him a reputation for arrogance, overspending, cronyism and other excesses. Daniel P. Love, the infamous thug whose lawlessness has been investigated extensively by the Interior Department’s Inspector General, is Woody’s protégé. The following information was provided to Free Range Report by an insider with the Bureau of Land Management’s Law Enforcement Division who wishes to remain anonymous. This account is intended to expose the dangerous level of corruption and unconstraint which remain at the highest levels in a federal agency with immense powers over western lands. We cannot independently confirm all the details contained in this account. 

Accounts of corruption surrounding BLM director William Woody emerge

August 19, 2018

Woody’s return to the BLM has not quieted complaints about his ethical breaches, and he has been under fire from multiple angles. It appears that as many, like myself, are speaking out, that his disregard for the law may be catching up to him.

Introduction by Editor

Despite improvements under the current administration in the culture and performance of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), there remain holdovers from the past culpable in the kinds of corruption and overreach which have come to define the agency. William Woody currently heads BLM law enforcement, but carries with him a reputation for arrogance, overspending, cronyism and other excesses. Daniel P. Love, the infamous thug whose lawlessness has been investigated extensively by the Interior Department’s Inspector General, is Woody’s protégé.

The following information was provided to Free Range Report by an insider with the Bureau of Land Management’s Law Enforcement Division who wishes to remain anonymous. This account is intended to expose the dangerous level of corruption and unconstraint which remain at the highest levels in a federal agency with immense powers over western lands. We cannot independently confirm all the details contained in this account.

William Woody currently heads the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Law Enforcement division. Woody was hired by the agency in 2003 as the founding director for the newly-instituted Office of Law Enforcement and Security (OLES). He was hired by BLM after several years with the Utah Department of Natural Resources (DNR), where he worked as an internal affairs officer and game warden. During his time with DNR, Woody’s ambition was evident, and he prioritized his desire to get promoted within the agency above his responsibility to be an effective game warden or steward of Utah’s fish and game species.

Woody’s friend and fellow member of the Mormon (LDS) Church, Kathleen Clarke, was instrumental in helping him gain his desired promotion in the BLM. Clarke earlier promoted Woody when she worked over him at the Utah DNR. During his first stint with the BLM, Director Woody’ pushed hard to create a centralized command of BLM’s law enforcement officers, placing all Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) directly under his supervision. Simply put, Woody’s goal was to strip control away from local BLM managers and sheriffs, and directly manage all BLM LEOs from his office in D.C. Woody was opposed by almost every BLM manager, sheriff, and county commissioner in the West who got wind of his plan, and he ultimately failed in his attempted takeover of BLM law enforcement.

Director Woody did, however, succeed in hiring Daniel P. Love as BLM Special Agent in Charge, despite Love’s lack of investigative experience. Love had served as a U.S. Air Marshal and a probation officer, but most importantly for Woody, Love had close family connections at the US Attorney’s office.

Love’s “Operation Cerberus,” the Native American antiquities sting in the Four Corners region which led to the suicide deaths of 3 men, impressed Woody so much that he commissioned a Challenge Coin to be created to commemorate the “achievement.” Although Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and others in the Obama Administration lauded the “success” of Love’s deadly sting operation, no indictments or convictions came of it and it all but destroyed relations between the BLM and Utah locals. Director Woody personally approved Operation Cerberus, which came to be regarded by the BLM officers undertaking it as overly militaristic; a major ‘ego-trip’ for Love and Woody. During the course of Operation Cerberus, rank and file agents were also troubled by Love’s illegal expenditures for personal items for him and his staff, to which Woody turned a blind eye. Woody also intervened when former Chief Ranger Felicia Probert attempted to discipline Love for the illegal spending. Woody’s tolerance for Love’s illegal and unethical conduct was explained with the phrase, “The ends justify the means.”

In 2011, Director Woody was transferred to the Fish and Wildlife service and given oversight over its investigators and inspectors. While there, Woody gained a reputation for lavish spending on travel. FWS’ mission extends past U.S. borders, meaning Director Woody received free international vacations. Woody also made national news when he directed the infamous SWAT-style raid on the Gibson Guitar factory.

When Woody was with FWS, he unilaterally gave all agents in the FWS a raise, moving them from GS-12 to a GS-13. He then attempted to gain control over the FWS’ uniformed rangers. By 2017, FWS had had enough of his ethical missteps and Woody was sent back to the BLM where he resumed his former role as law enforcement director.

Woody’s return to the BLM has not quieted complaints about his ethical breaches, and he has been under fire from multiple angles. It appears that as many, like myself, are speaking out, that his disregard for the law may be catching up to him.

Woody is currently under investigation for a number of violations including:

Taxpayer-funded relocation to his hometown

Upon Director Woody’s removal from the FWS, some kind of deal was struck with Trump’s new Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke who told him he could uproot his entire staff and move it to Salt Lake City. Then Acting BLM Director, Mike Nedd, initially rebuffed the move, but when a new boss came to town, his plan was approved. Mike Nedd was later replaced as Acting Director, reportedly for going along with every questionable decision coming from the politicians.

Woody rationalized the expensive move as a way to encourage better relations with the locals, despite the presence of dozens of BLM employees already employed in local offices. BLM’s relationship with local government in the Salt Lake area is quite cozy.  Although, offices in southern Utah, Nevada, Oregon and other localities are not so friendly to the agency. If he were truly interested in establishing local rapport, Woody could have put his headquarters in any of those places, but it’s important to note that he and his wife are from Salt Lake and their families still live in the area

Woody didn’t give his staff in DC the same consideration, knowing they would be uprooted from their families in the east with a move to Salt Lake. Woody’s friend and protégé, Dan Love, it is suspected, also lives in Salt Lake City and there is no evidence that he has actually been fired from the BLM. It’s difficult to believe Woody and Love are not in contact with one another.

Hundreds of thousands in unnecessary expenses are being wasted at Woody’s whim.

Woody’s Lavish Travel

Woody’s love for travel has been evident throughout his career. He loves to travel, especially to Salt Lake and Santa Fe, NM. Despite the fact that there is no need for his staff to travel to either location, and that it’s highly inconvenient and expensive, he takes regular taxpayer-funded trips to see his dad who happens to live in Santa Fe. Unnecessary and unofficial meetings with advocacy groups and visits to sportsman’s shows give Director Woody plenty of Hilton Honors points and taxpayer-funded trips back home.

Woody wants to be popular, even adored by his underlings, even it means winning adoration through perks. Woody is planning to send 100 members of his staff to attend ‘training’ junket in California. The training being done there is reportedly very low level, and is probably just a forum for Director Woody to win over (and gain the silence) of his “troops.”

Considering that most BLM officers are in remote duty stations, flying is very expensive and driving costs about a dollar per mile. When you include lodging, the cost per person will probably average $1,000. Upwards of $1 million in taxpayer funding will be spent on a meeting with no purpose other than to place Woody in front of a captive audience who will, no doubt, be enthralled at the opportunity for a taxpayer-funded vacation.

Although records of government expenditures are ordinarily available to the public, Director Woody put up a firewall when he arranged for the hiring and promotion from GS-9 to GS-13 of a new “Budget Officer” position, located in–you guessed it–Salt Lake. Along with a higher salary, that position is paid generous overtime pay for “work” that takes place out of the office. It doesn’t matter if the budget officer works from home, or Disneyland with her best friend (who happens to be the BLM Law Enforcement Procurement Officer under Woody’s direction, and who buys whatever Director Woody wants with no questions asked).

Vehicle Privilege Abuse

The private sector practice of providing “company cars” to salesmen and other representatives is common due to the necessities of field work. But Woody, who has never written a ticket, made an arrest or responded to an incident (and is in reality an honorary law enforcement officer with the BLM) enjoys the use of a fully-equipped law enforcement vehicle, fueled with taxpayer funded gas, that he uses almost exclusively for driving back and forth to his work as a top-level bureaucrat.

Woody was not content with an ordinary car for driving back and forth from the office, so he ordered a cop car complete with lights and sirens to help him speed through congested D.C. traffic and avoid speeding tickets. The American people are paying a nearly $75 per mile rate for Woody’s cop car, on top of his generous salary.

Director Woody regularly exceeds the BLM’s 35-mile limit on investigators who use their vehicles to drive from home to work. This limit helps ensure that field-going employees can respond quickly because their vehicle and equipment are with them, and that they live in the general area they cover. Director Woody, however, drives his car back and forth 40 some-odd miles each way daily.

Until the internal affairs report reaches them, it is unknown how the BLM will respond to Woody’s vehicle misuse. But, if any of Director Woody’s employees repeatedly broke rules the way he does, they’d be subject to the kind of penalties he’s imposed on several agents; a mandatory 30-days off without pay penalty as per federal law. Woody’s management style is defined by hypocrisy. Many, like me, fear that Woody will receive no consequences for his abuses; the “good old boy” network is alive and well in Woody’s world.

Cronyism

Director Woody embodies government run amok with his hiring practices, which are another rung on his ladder of ambition.

The Trump Administration put into place a federal hiring freeze early last year, but Woody continues to hire agents unnecessarily. Although there’s a need for boots on the ground agents, Woody is using his personnel budget to hire cronies at exorbitant salaries. Most people in Woody’s position get one GS-15 (the highest pay grade for career workers) to assist in their role, but Woody has hired three, including his own Public Relations guy in Salt Lake City.

Director Woody has taken hiring cronies to a new level. Woody ignores the checks and balances in federal hiring practices that ensure the best candidates are hired instead of less-qualified friends and relatives. For instance, if a high-level supervisor puts together a hiring team of subject matter experts, their job is to identify the most qualified applicant. Case in point: Instead of hiring the most qualified candidate for the open position of supervisory investigator for the BLM Reno office, which is a place BLM needs experienced people to repair it’s abysmal reputation in Nevada, Woody over-rode the hiring team’s selection and illegally ordered them to hire a crony of his from FWS. As a result, a seasoned BLM employee and supervisor familiar with Nevada’s issues and state laws was bounced by a crony with ZERO supervisory experience.

Another good-old-boy deal was Woody’s promotion of an investigator to head his internal affairs department. Not surprisingly, that employee had no permanent supervisory experience, and while on a 90-day detail, a temporary supervisor had been caught drinking on duty, and pressuring subordinates to join him. Remarkably, that employee was not reprimanded. His “punishment” was having to wait a couple of years before Woody promoted him. No disciplinary action was taken. If you’re a pet of Director Woody, you’re covered, not matter what you do.

There are other questions worth exploring. Why, for example, does BLM have an agent assigned to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in downtown San Diego, far from any public lands? Does the BLM have such a surplus of agents that they have extras to assign to other agencies? Why does that particular agent get to drive his government/commuter vehicle over 35 miles (from Temecula to SD) every day? Since he is a BLM employee, he doesn’t have any DEA authority. What is the justification for such irregularities?

Buying Silence and Loyalty with Promotions in BLM

Director Woody knows how to buy influence – literally. He simply throws money at the people he needs to be loyal to him. As he did in FWS, Woody is now in the process of upgrading all his 60-plus investigators from GS-12’s to GS-13’s. With their special salary rate included, that’s means each agent will get an additional $17,347 per year. If you include Woody’s 15-plus supervisory investigators earning $128,882 as GS-14’s ($19,817 increase), and his two additional GS-15’s (getting a $22,718 increase), Woody is spending an additional $1,383,511.00 tax dollars each year just in salary increases for those closest to him. In the long term, the amount will obviously be more since almost all those people qualify for federal ‘step’ increases their salaries.

We’re all human. What would you do for a $22,000 raise for the same job? What would you overlook for the cash? What are Woody’s inner-circle cronies overlooking?

Time’s Up

Director Woody takes care of his protégées and his cronies. While it was announced a few months ago that Dan Love no longer worked for the BLM, rumors circulated widely that he wasn’t terminated, but r given a medical retirement for “on-the-job stress.” It’s safe to assume Love’s medical “disability” pension probably amounts to more than his former GS-15 salary. The BLM will neither confirm nor deny whether Love continues to work for the BLM, but it appears that even without working (which makes everyone in the West a little safer) he is still drawing fat paychecks from American taxpayers.

Woody is the worst person to head BLM law enforcement at this time, as agents and regional directors try to mend ties with a justifiably angry public, and prove that they do care about making government work for the people. Arrogant, above accountability, and detached from the lives of ordinary working people, Woody is not just a corrupt cop, he’s a disease lingering within an agency that desperately needs to purge its bad elements. ~Editor