Trump selects local attorney as Solicitor for Department of Interior

Idaho Falls

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Ryan and Barbara Nelson | Courtesy photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump has announced that he intends to nominate Idaho Falls native Ryan Nelson as the Solicitor for the United States Department of Interior.

As Solicitor, Nelson will be the chief attorney for the department, principal legal adviser to the Secretary of the Interior, and will oversee 400 employees, including 300 attorneys.

Nelson currently serves as General Counsel for Melaleuca, Inc. and has worked for all three branches of government. He served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice and as Deputy General Counsel for the White House Office of Management and Budget.

“Ryan Nelson is coming to the Department of the Interior with a strong background in natural resources policy and law, stretching many years in both the public and private sector,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Having a seasoned legal expert like Ryan, who is also a son of the West, will benefit the entire Department. I look forward to his speedy confirmation by the Senate.”

RELATED | Zinke Applauds Nomination of Idaho’s Ryan Nelson to Serve as Interior Solicitor

Nelson graduated from the Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School and has served as Special Counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee. He has argued 13 Federal court of appeals cases on environmental and constitutional issues.

“I am honored to have been chosen by Secretary Zinke and nominated by President Trump to serve, and I look forward to the next steps in the Senate confirmation process,” Nelson said.

Nelson has been Melaleuca’s chief legal advisor for nearly eight years and CEO Frank VanderSloot calls him “the best possible candidate” to lead the Department of Interior’s legal team.

“I have personally come to trust and rely on his legal mind and deep commitment to the law, as he has effectively advised the company over the years. During his service, the company has nearly tripled in size and Ryan has built a strong legal team and worked tirelessly to successfully guide the company’s growth,” VanderSloot said. “Ryan is a true patriot and I fully support his personal sacrifice in serving this country that he loves so much.”

The United States Senate must confirm Nelson’s appointment before he is sworn in. Senators from Idaho praised Trump’s decision.

“Ryan Nelson’s experience handling environmental and natural resources policy and his vast understanding of issues impacting Western states make him well-qualified for this position,” said Senator Jim Risch, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee overseeing this nomination. “I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to swiftly confirm his nomination.”

Senator Mike Crapo added, “Ryan Nelson’s background is a strong fit for the U.S. Department of Interior as he has worked on a wide-range of policy issues important to both Idaho and to the nation. Combined with his strong legal background, Ryan will bring a point of view to Interior that is critically important given the agency’s jurisdiction over significant portions of the Western United States. I congratulate Ryan on his nomination and will work with my Senate colleagues to advance his confirmation.”

Nelson currently resides in Idaho Falls with his wife, Barbara Baer Nelson, and their seven children.