By Amy Joi O’Donoghue | February 1, 2016
A Bureau of Land Management supervisory agent in Salt Lake City was investigated on ethics complaints by the Office of Inspector General for having colleagues escort his family at the Burning Man event and threatening retaliation during the probe. | Adobe stock photo
SALT LAKE CITY — The Interior Department's Office of Inspector General investigated an unnamed Bureau of Land Management supervisory agent in Salt Lake City for more than a year on ethics complaints, with the independent panel concluding that breaches had occurred.
The agent, which the Deseret News has confirmed is Dan Love through a source familiar with the investigation, is accused of using his position to secure preferential treatment for his family during the 2015 Burning Man event in Nevada, including using federal law enforcement officers as personal escorts for their safety, using his BLM vehicle to transport his girlfriend and allowing her to share overnight BLM lodging with him.
The national office of the BLM released a statement on the investigation, saying it takes the allegations of misconduct seriously.
"These types of allegations do not align with our mission or the professionalism and dedication of our 10,000 employees doing essential work for America's public lands each and every day. This is an internal personnel matter under review by the BLM, and we have no additional information to provide at this time," said spokesman Michael Richardson.
Efforts to reach Love for comment were unsuccessful and BLM officials had no additional information on his current status of employment with the agency.
According to the Office of Inspector General report, Burning Man organizers said Love asked for, and was granted, special access for him and his family inside a restricted area to watch the "Man Burn event" in an area typically reserved for event organizers and the pyrotechnics crew.
Because of scrutiny surrounding the agent's role in a request for a $1 million "luxury" compound to take care of BLM needs for the event, the report said the supervisory agent purchased tickets from the attorney representing the event's for-profit subsidiary and at full price because he knew people "would be looking."
Although unnamed in the inspector general's report, Love — who was the top cop for Utah and Nevada before being promoted to a national position — was linked to many of the requests associated with the luxury compound, according to emails obtained in an investigative news story cited in the report.
The Office of Inspector General, which is tasked with independent oversight and accountability of the Interior Department, launched the investigation in September of 2015 based on a pair of anonymous complaints.
Love has been at the center of multiple complaints by rural sheriff offices in Utah about the deteriorating relationship between the BLM and their officers. They've cited Love in particular for an attitude they say is dismissive and uncooperative. At least one county sheriff and six county commissioners traveled to Washington, D.C., in 2014 to express their frustration and ask for his removal.
Love led a controversial artifacts trafficking raid in the Blanding area in 2009 and was involved in the armed standoff on the Utah-Nevada border with the Cliven Bundy family over unpaid grazing fees.
Aside from the Burning Man incidents, the agent investigated by the Office of Inspector General was found to have manipulated the hiring process so his friend got a job at the agency, even though the man was not as qualified as other applicants and received an unfavorable recommendation by another employer, the report states.
The investigative report was forwarded to the Interior Department's assistant secretary over lands and minerals for any action deemed appropriate.
The report also noted several instances of threatened retaliation by Love — who has since been removed from his post — to the point where one colleague said she began locking the door to her office.
The agent also is accused of bragging that he "owned" the national director of BLM's Office of Law Enforcement and Security and that nothing would happen to him.
According to the report, Love told the woman she better do damage control after the investigation began in 2015. Once he was removed from his position, she said he told her: “You know, if you don’t side with me, grenades are going to go off and you’ll get hit."