Promoting James Watt, Secretary of the Interior

Why is James Watt, Secretary of the Interior, urging a book on his subordinates?

| May/June 1983

James Watt Secretary of the Interior

As a private citizen, Ron Arnold had a right to write a book promoting James Watt. A Secretary of the Interior, however, isn't supposed to promote books.


Some of the Reagan administration’s most embattled figures are not taking things lying down. Consider James Watt, Secretary of the Interior: He is trying to win friends and influence people ... and his own employees are among them! It seems that officials of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have been asked to promote the sale of a new book, At the Eye of the Storm — James Watt and the Environmentalists, among Interior Department employees. The volume, written by self-styled Watt defender Ron Arnold, is being offered to the civil servants at the bargain price of $6.00 (instead of the normal $14.95) per copy.

Questions about the propriety of this bit of promotion have been raised recently by an employee at Kodiak, Alaska's National Wildlife Refuge. In a letter to Congressman John Seiberling, the USFWS worker wrote, "In a time when 11% of our people are out of work and the national debt is skyrocketing toward Pluto, the government has absolutely no business promoting anyone's personal book or propaganda campaign." Congressman Seiberling has yet to take action on the matter.

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