Republican senators are questioning President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Bureau of Land Management over a personal loan she accepted from a Montana developer.
Tracy Stone-Manning met real-estate developer Stuart Goldberg around 2000 when he was a supporter of a conservation nonprofit she led, according to information she recently provided a Senate committee. They became friends, dining at each other’s homes, going camping, and attending concerts together. She later went on to officiate his wedding.
There was some business involved, too. While Stone-Manning was the executive director of the Clark Fork Coalition, she made what she called the “perhaps unprecedented” act of supporting a development project Goldberg’s company had put forward, according to the Missoulian.
In 2008, their friendship added a new dimension when Stone-Manning took a personal loan of $60,000 from Goldberg. At the time she borrowed the money, Stone-Manning was a federal employee, working as a regional director for Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
Stone-Manning worked in Tester’s office for five more years, before Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) appointed her to head the state’s Department of Environmental Quality in 2013. After two years in that role, she left to become Bullock’s chief of staff, before entering the private sector in 2017.
There is no evidence that she did anything untoward in securing the loan or in using her official roles to benefit her creditor. Stone-Manning said she did not even know of interests Goldberg had before the government. In 2020, after making interest-only payments every month for 12 years on the personal loan, Stone-Manning paid off the principal.
During her confirmation hearing in June, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) asked about the optics of Stone-Manning’s arrangement. “Like many families in 2008, we got smacked by the recession, and a friend loaned us some money to make sure that we could get through it,” Stone-Manning said. “We came to terms, and we honored the loan.”
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) later requested documents related to the loan, but Stone-Manning refused to provide any. “The arrangements were made verbally and payments were made electronically,” she replied in a written response, without explaining why that would preclude her from sharing records.
Stone-Manning, Goldberg and a spokesperson for the Department of the Interior did not reply to inquiries from Forbes.
The Senate Energy Committee is scheduled to vote on Stone-Manning’s nomination on Thursday.