Top Interior official heads to firm working for BP

By DINA CAPPIELLO | September 20, 2011 | 1:55 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The former chief of staff to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has taken a job with a law firm representing BP in litigation stemming from the massive Gulf oil spill last year.

Tom Strickland joined the Interior Department as Salazar's chief of staff and an assistant secretary in 2009. He worked there at time when the department ushered in reforms and new ethical rules to reduce conflicts of interest between offshore oil drilling's regulator and drilling companies.

Federal law bars Strickland temporarily from dealing with his former colleagues in the government on any issue he worked on at the agency.

A managing partner for his new firm, WilmerHale, said Strickland would have no role in the firm's work for BP in connection with April 2010 oil spill.