Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) issued the following statement after the retirement announcement of Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes, who has served since May 2009 when he was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate.
"I note with deep regret the decision of Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes to retire from public life," said Cole. "David Hayes has been one of the most gifted and accomplished public servants of his generation. He served the Administration and, more importantly, the country with skill, integrity, vision and leadership.
"Among his many accomplishments, the most noteworthy is surely his settlement of the so-called Cobell lawsuit on terms that were not only beneficial to the government but fair to hundreds of thousands of Native Americans and to tribal governments. It was David who recognized a problem and turned it into a solution, not only in terms of just compensation to Indians for years of mismanagement of their trust accounts but for tribal governments as well. His proposal to use part of the settlement to purchase fractionated lands and return them to productive use will benefit individual Indians and tribal governments in perpetuity. Moreover, the addition of a scholarship fund for needy American Indian students, as a component of the settlement, will benefit generations to come.
"On countless issues, including the complex Oklahoma water issue, efforts to partner with Indian tribes for the management of federal properties and initiatives to foster and speed up the development of resources in Indian Country, David led with skill, finesse and innovation. Moreover, he did so in ways that were inclusive, bipartisan and transparent.
"I wish David every success in private life. However, I certainly hope at some time in the future, he returns to public service. He is simply too gifted and capable to remain on the sidelines as the great public issues of the day are discussed, debated and solved."