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Norton to remain on job for second Bush term

Interior Secretary Gale Norton will remain on the job for a second term, the Bush administration announced on Thursday.

President Bush asked Norton to stay and she agreed, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. Also remaining on board are Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.

The announcement clears up remaining doubts about the makeup of Bush's second-term Cabinet. Nine of 15 department secretaries have announced their resignations since Bush's re-election in November.

Norton joined the administration in January 2001 after a bitter confirmation fight that saw her receive the most negative votes than any Interior secretary in history. She and Attorney General John Ashcroft, who is resigning, were the most controversial of Bush's first-term picks.

Norton soon became embroiled in the Cobell Indian trust fund litigation that remains unresolved to date. She brought in a controversial Reagan administration official, Ross Swimmer, to oversee efforts to reform the broken system.

A federal judge later held Norton in contempt for providing misleading information about the state of reform to the court. An appeals court lifted the charge.

Just last week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a preliminary injunction that disconnected the department's computer systems from the Internet. But the court said Norton has a fiduciary obligation to safeguard Indian trust data.

The court also said rejected Norton's attempt to limit the authority of U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth on information technology matters.

A second ruling is pending on a structural injunction that guides the historical accounting of the Individual Indian Money (IIM) trust and reform of the system. Norton contends the order is too broad and is limited by a controversial appropriations rider that was also at issue in the IT case.

Norton will continue into the second term without her deputy, J. Steven Griles, a former energy lobbyist who announced his resignation on Monday.

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton -
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice -
Indian Trust, Department of Interior -
Trust Reform, NCAI -