A watchdog organization is requesting that the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) inspector general investigate a bureaucrat playing a key role in President Joe Biden’s push to force Americans into electric vehicles (EVs), according to a copy of the letter obtained exclusively by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The complaint, sent by Protect the Public’s Trust to DOT Inspector General Eric Soskin on Monday, alleges that Biden violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA) when he appointed Ann Carlson to serve as acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The FVRA stipulates that the president cannot appoint an acting officer to a position if the individual did not serve for at least 90 days as the chief assistant to the vacant job or if the president submits their nomination the Senate for appointment during the 365 days prior to the vacancy arising, and the alleged violations of these clauses would mean that Carlson’s appointment was illegal and that any actions she has taken in the role “shall have no force or effect,” according to its text.
Carlson, formerly chief counsel for the agency, had served as acting administrator of NHTSA since September 2022, upon the resignation of the former administrator, according to the White House. Biden announced that he would nominate her to run the agency on a permanent basis in February 2023, but Senate Republicans tanked her nomination, largely because of her previous statements about using high energy prices as a launching pad for the green transition and other comments indicating her support for hardline climate policy, forcing Biden to withdraw her nomination in May. Since the withdrawal, she has remained in the post on an acting basis and oversaw the agency’s proposed updates to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in July, which would drive up automobile costs and amount to an “EV mandate,” Dan Kish, senior research fellow for the Institute for Energy Research, told the DCNF at the time.
“This is becoming standard procedure when the people, through their Senators, reject Biden administration nominees over concerns about experience, activism, and conflicts of interest,” Michael Chamberlain, director of Protect the Public’s Trust, told the DCNF. “That the administration has taken a similar tack with one of Secretary Buttigieg’s top deputies, Ms. Carlson, it appears that yet again the self-proclaimed most ethical administration in history has placed its agenda above constitutional checks and balances. This is not the way to restore trust in the federal government.”
NHTSA’s core mission is “to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce economic costs due to road traffic crashes, through education, research, safety standards, and enforcement,” according to the agency’s website. Carlson had no distinct prior career experience pertaining directly to the automobile industry or traffic safety prior to her work for NHTSA, according to Protect the Public’s Trust, and she is one of several officials that the White House has managed to wedge into influential bureaucratic posts despite their failure to clear the Senate confirmation process.
“Presidential nominees must earn their positions through constitutionally sanctioned procedures, not through back-door attempts to thwart the separation of powers in an effort to enact an administration’s preferred policy outcomes,” the complaint reads. “The Office of Inspector General should immediately investigate these violations of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act and prevent Ms. Carlson from engaging in any further ultra vires activities.”
The DOT, NHTSA and the White House all did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
Nick Pope on November 7, 2023