HUD official resigns as drama over Interior IG appointment mounts

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After a week of confusion, the political appointee who had — in an unusual move — been announced as the next Interior Department watchdog has resigned from government service, according to a spokesman.

Suzanne Israel Tufts, an assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development, “has offered her resignation and it has been accepted,” HUD spokesman Raffi Williams said in a statement Friday afternoon.

Last Friday, HUD Secretary Ben Carson emailed his department with “a fond farewell” for Tufts. She would be leaving HUD, he said, “to become the Acting Inspector General at the Department of Interior.”

The announcement surprised the Interior Department inspector general’s office, and sparked concern among government ethics groups that a political appointee would lead an office with three active investigations into the cabinet secretary. Inspectors general operate independently of the government agencies they oversee, and are typically not political figures.

The Interior Department raised more questions on Thursday when it said Carson’s announcement “had false information in it.”

“Ms. Tufts is not employed by the (Interior) Department and no decision was ever made to move her to Interior,” spokeswoman Heather Swift said.

Neither Carson’s spokesman nor Tufts returned calls for comment.

But a HUD official on Friday blamed the announcement on a “miscommunication at the staff level,” suggesting Carson was given bad information.