As President Donald Trump eyes New Mexico in his 2020 battle for the White House, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt plans to attend a state oil and gas association meeting next week in Santa Fe.
Bernhardt — a former oil and gas lobbyist — took over former Secretary Ryan Zinke’s post in April after Zinke resigned amid investigations into business dealings in his home state of Montana. Bernhardt previously served as deputy secretary under Zinke and as a solicitor for the department during the George W. Bush administration.
The oil and gas group has scheduled Bernhardt to address industry representatives Tuesday morning at Santa Fe’s Eldorado Hotel after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s speech to the association, a meeting agenda shows.
The conference will include multiple golf tournaments, a fundraiser at Bar Alto, and speeches from other city and state officials in New Mexico.
Bernhardt began his career as a Colorado Republican lawmaker’s staffer before becoming a lobbyist and then joining the Interior Department, which presides over the country’s natural resources and minerals.
During Bernhardt’s Senate confirmation hearing, New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich, a Democrat, supported the former oil and gas lobbyist, telling the Washington Post he needed “to be able to pick up the phone and talk to the secretary of interior on a regular, regular basis because these things have direct impacts on New Mexico.”