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Name: Kempthorne, Dirk
Current Position: Former Secretary
A native of San Diego, Dirk Kempthorne served as Secretary of the Interior from May 26, 2006 until the inauguration of Barack Obama. He graduated from the University of Idaho in 1976.
Kempthorne began his career as executive assistant to the director of the Idaho Department of Lands (1976-1978) and then as executive vice president of the Idaho Home Builders Association (1978-1981). Kempthorne’s first foray into politics was as campaign manager for Idaho gubernatorial candidate Phil Batt in 1982. He then returned to the private sector, working as state public affairs manager for FMC Corporation (1983-1986).
Kempthorne’s first elected office was the mayor of Boise, Idaho, where he served from 1985 to 1992. He was then elected to the US Senate in 1992 for one term, before becoming governor of Idaho in 1999. He was re-elected governor in 2002, but left office before completing his second term to join the Bush administration as the head of Interior.
Kempthorne’s nomination was derided by environmentalists, who viewed him as a leader inclined to give “over our public lands to developers and the oil and gas companies,” according to the Sierra Club. The environmental group pointed to Kempthorne’s record in the Senate, which showed his preference for changing laws like the Endangered Species Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act to make them more favorable to commercial interests. He also favored opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration
In August 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity presented Kempthorne with the first annual Rubber Dodo Award for becoming the longest serving Interior secretary to not list a single plant or animal on the federal endangered species list. Kempthorne eventually went two years and five days without adding to the list, and even then he did so (listing the polar bear as “threatened”) under court order.
Idaho Governor Selected to Lead Interior Dept. (by Michael Janofsky, New York Times)
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