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Secretary of the Interior

The Secretary of the Interior is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate to lead all activities at the Department.

Ryan Zinke is a politician who has served in the U.S. Congress and Montana State legislature. He has come under fire for his management of a Super PAC as a congressional candidate, and for violating ethics standards as a Navy SEAL. Despite his claims to be a conservationist in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt, he has rewarded the energy industry for their support of his campaigns by protecting loopholes that hurt American taxpayers.

Sources: [Kristen Welker, “Trump Taps Montana Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke as Interior Secretary,” NBC News, 12/13/16, Darryl Fears, “Senate confirms Ryan Zinke as interior secretary,” Washington Post, 03/01/17, “Zinke, Ryan,” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, accessed 07/10/17, Molly Redden, “GOP Congressional Candidate Using Campaign Money Scheme Pioneered by…Stephen Colbert,” Mother Jones, 11/01/13, John S. Adams, “Former Navy officer stands by statements against Zinke,” Great Falls Tribune, 10/22/14, Matthew Chappell, “No resemblance between Zinke, Roosevelt,” Missoulian, 04/26/17, Matt Lee Ashley and Nidhi Thakar, “Massive Coal Company Fights To Preserve Loopholes, Ability To Rip Off Taxpayers,” ThinkProgress, 08/11/15, and Political Moneyline Search for Ryan Zinke, CQ, accessed 07/07/17]

Special Interests

Richard Spencer (Political Extremism)

In 2014, Ryan Zinke received a $500 donation from Richard Spencer, the director of the National Policy Institute, which bills itself as a think-tank dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of European people.

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Earl Holt (Political Extremism)

Ryan Zinke accepted $500 from Earl Holt, the leader of white supremacist group Council of Conservative Citizens, whose website radicalized Charlestown church shooter Dylann Roof.

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Taylor Rose (Political Extremism)

In 2016, Ryan Zinke endorsed Montana congressional candidate Taylor Rose, who was deeply active in white nationalism and had ties with a number of extremist European political parties.

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Arch Coal (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Ryan Zinke, since 2013, has accepted $9,000 in campaign contributions from Arch Coal, a leading coal producer and marketer, which sold 96 million tons of coal in 2016.

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Cloud Peak Energy (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Ryan Zinke has accepted at least $10,000 in campaign contributions from Cloud Peak Energy Resources, one of the largest U.S. coal producers, with operations in Wyoming and Montana.

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Haliburton (Resource Development on Public Lands)

The Department of Interior’s Office of the Inspector General is currently investigating whether Zinke committed any wrongdoing by chasing a sweetheart real estate deal between a foundation controlled by his family and private developers, including Halliburton Chairman David Lesar.

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Oasis Petroleum (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Ryan Zinke, since 2013, has accepted more than $46,000 in campaign contributions from Oasis Petroleum, an oil and gas exploration and production company in the western United States.

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Peabody Energy (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Ryan Zinke, since 2013, has accepted $4,000 in campaign contributions from Peabody Energy, the largest private-sector coal company in the world.

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Chevron (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Ryan Zinke has accepted $7,500 in campaign contributions from the multinational Chevron Corporation, a conglomerate with oil, natural gas, and LNG production and exploration operations.

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National Mining Association (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Ryan Zinke, since 2013, has accepted nearly $5,000 in campaign contributions from the National Mining Association, the coal industry's trade association, which has more than 300 member companies and organizations.

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Red Apple Group (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Ryan Zinke, since 2013, has accepted more than $16,000 in campaign contributions from the Red Apple Group, an energy conglomerate that owns United Refining, a crude oil refinery that processes 70,000 barrels of oil a day.

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Federal Forest Resource Coalition (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Ryan Zinke, since 2013, has accepted $3,000 in campaign contributions from the Federal Forest Resource Coalition, a trade group of federal timber purchasers with more than 650 member companies in 28 States.

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ExxonMobil Corporation (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Ryan Zinke has accepted more than $11,500 in campaign contributions from multinational oil and gas company Exxon Mobil.

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Marathon Oil Corporation (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Ryan Zinke has accepted $5,500 in campaign contributions from the Marathon Oil Corporation, an oil and natural gas exploration and production company.

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Newfield Exploration Company (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Ryan Zinke has accepted $7,500 in campaign contributions from the Newfield Exploration Company, a petroleum and natural gas exploration and production company with operations in Oklahoma, Utah, and North Dakota.

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Save the World Air (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Ryan Zinke, from 2012 to 2015, was a board member and "State Government Liaison" for Save the World Air, a commercial pipeline technology company with a financial interest in the Keystone Pipeline.

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Alpha Natural Resources (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Ryan Zinke, since 2013, has accepted $4,500 in campaign contributions from Alpha Natural Resources, one of America's leading producers of coal, with 18 mines across the United States.

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Background Information

Previous Employers

Additional Background on Employers of Note:

Ryan Zinke served 23 years as a Navy SEAL.

Ryan Zinke served 23 years as a Navy SEAL, but “left the SEALs under unclear circumstances.” Zinke had “‘transgressions'” in the Navy that hurt his military career, including “inappropriately using Navy travel funds for personal travel” and lying about it, claiming he was attempting “to set up SEAL training in Montana.” This resulted in Zinke being investigated for misusing government funds and being ordered to pay the government back. Despite this investigation, in his confirmation hearing for Secretary of the Interior, Zinke told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that he had never “been investigated …by any federal…law enforcement authority for the violation of any federal…law, regulation, or ordinance.”

[“Home,” Ryan Zinke, accessed 07/09/17, Molly Redden, “GOP Congressional Candidate Using Campaign Money Scheme Pioneered by…Stephen Colbert,” Mother Jones, 11/01/13, John S. Adams, “Former Navy officer stands by statements against Zinke,” Great Falls Tribune, 10/22/14, Charles S. Johnson, “Zinke touts leadership experience in U.S. House race,” Missoulian, 09/28/14, and Ryan Zinke, “Statement by Completion for Presidential Nominees,” Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 01/09/17]

Ryan Zinke, from December 2012 through January 1, 2015, served on the Board of Directors for Save the World Air, Inc. (STWA), and, beginning in 2013, served as a “State Government Liaison” with STWA.

Ryan Zinke, from December 2012 through January 1, 2015, served on the Board of Directors for Save the World Air, Inc. (STWA), and, beginning in 2013, served as a “State Government Liaison” with STWA. STWA, which developed and commercialized “pipeline flow assurance technologies that improve the economics, safety, and efficiencies of crude oil extraction and transportation systems,” had serious financial problems, including state and federal tax liens. STWA also had a financial interest in the Keystone Pipeline; in 2013 STWA entered “an equipment lease/option to purchase deal with TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. by its agent TC Oil Pipeline Operations, Inc.” In 2015, shortly after he joined Congress, Ryan Zinke became an original cosponsor of legislation to build the Keystone XL Pipeline.

[Save the World Air, Press Release, 12/14/12, “Independent Contractor Agreement,” Securities and Exchange Commission, 2013, Save the World Air, Press Release, 11/25/13, Data from Nexis-Lexis, “Canada: STWA Inks Inked Equipment Lease/option to Purchase Deal with TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P,” Highbeam Research, 08/06/13, and “H.R. 3,” United States House of Representatives, 114th Congress]

Save the World Air, (STWA) had serious financial problems, including state and federal tax liens. Additionally, one of its subsidiaries, STWA Asia Pte. Limited, appears in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ [ICIJ] offshore leaks database.

According to his agreement as a contractor with STWA, Zinke was to be paid $60,000 for one year. [Independent Contractor Agreement, Securities and Exchange Commission, 2013]

STWA paid Zinke $85,000 for a “director’s fee” in 2013. [Ryan Zinke, Personal Financial Disclosure, 2014]

In 2014, Zinke was granted $46,547 in stock options as a director at STWA.  [Save the World Air Inc. Schedule 14A, Securities and Exchange Commission, 2015]

In 2013 STWA entered “an equipment lease/option to purchase deal with TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. by its agent TC Oil Pipeline Operations, Inc.”  Under the agreement TransCanada agreed to “lease, install, maintain, operate and test the efficiency of STWA’s Applied Oil Technology [AOT] and equipment on one of TransCanada’s active pipelines.”  [Canada : STWA Inks Inked Equipment Lease/option to Purchase Dealwith TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P, Highbeam Research, 08/6/13]

The lease “was terminated by TransCanada, effective October 15, 2014.”  [SAVE THE WORLD AIR INC, Securities and Commission Form 10-Q, 2014, Page 9]

Weinberg & Company, PA, conducted an audit of STWA in 2014 that raised “substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”  It noted that STWA was “in the development stage, has not generated any revenues from operations to date, has experienced recurring operating losses and negative operating cash flows since inception, and has financed its working capital requirements through the recurring sale of its debt and equity securities.”  [Save the World Air Inc. Schedule 14A, Securities and Exchange Commission, 2013]

In 2014, the Employment Development Department of California filed a state tax lien against STWA, and the IRS filed a lien against the company in 2013.  [Based on Data from LexisNexis]

Save the World Air had a wholly-owned Singaporean subsidiary called STWA Asia Pte. Limited. [Save the World Air Inc., Press Release, 11/01/06, and Letter from STWA to shareholders, 12/10/14]

STWA Asia Pte. Limited produced “emissions-reduction devices” that aimed to “‘reduc[e] harmful emissions'” and “‘improv[e] fuel economy and performance” of motorcycles. STWA Asia Pte. Limited products were sold in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the United States. [Press Release, 01/26/06, Save the World Air and  Press Release, Save the World Air, 04/25/07]

According to a December 2014 letter Save the World Air Inc. sent their shareholders, they dissolved STWA Asia Pte. Limited because it was “unnecessary.” In the same letter, Save the World Air Inc. announced that Ryan Zinke was resigning as a STWA board member. [Letter from STWA to Shareholders, Save the World Air, 12/10/14]

STWA Asia Pte. Limited appears in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ offshore leaks database. STWA Asia Pte. Limited incorporated on January 17, 2006 and Save the World Air Inc. became a shareholder of STWA Asia Pte. Limited on February 14, 2016. The status of STWA Asia Pte. Limited is listed as “active” in the database and STWA Asia Pte. Limited’s jurisdiction is listed as Singapore. [“Save the World Air Inc.,” ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database, accessed 12/14/17]

Save the World Air Inc. and Hock Swee Goh are the only two shareholders of STWA Asia Pte. Limited listed in the offshore leaks database. [“STWA Asia Pte. Limited,” ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database, accessed 12/14/17]

Save the World Air Inc. changed its name to QS Energy in August 2015. [QS Energy, Press Release, 08/11/15]

According to a document that QS Energy filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, as of September 30, 2017, STWA Asia Pte. Limited is still one of its wholly owned subsidiaries. [QS Energy Form 10-Q, Securities and Exchange Commission, 09/30/17]

Ryan Zinke “created the Special Operations for America (SOFA) super PAC to back Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.”

Ryan Zinke “created the Special Operations for America (SOFA) super PAC to back Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign,” and in 2013, SOFA PAC transitioned to supporting congressional campaigns.Zinke resigned from the super PAC on September 30, 2013, and in October 2013 the super PAC made Zinke their “first candidate.” After the super PAC had spent $250,000 in support of Zinke’s congressional campaign, Zinke made the treasurer of the super PAC his congressional chief of staff. Although Zinke denied “taking a paycheck from SOFA,” from July 2012 to March 2013 the super-PAC paid Zinke’s company, Continental Divide International, $26,317.11 for “‘fundraising consulting’ and ‘strategy consulting.'” He also received complaints “alleging illegal coordination” between his campaign and SOFA PAC.

[Matt Volz, “GOP’s Zinke reaps benefit of PAC he founded, but is it legal?,” Associated Press, 02/16/14, Charles Johnson, “Democrats blast Zinke’s pick of former super PAC treasurer as chief of staff,” Billings Gazette, 01/07/15, Molly Redden, “GOP Congressional Candidate Using Campaign Money Scheme Pioneered by…Stephen Colbert,” Mother Jones, 11/01/13, and Troy Carter, “Zinke denies super PAC coordination,” Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 07/31/14]

Ryan Zinke, from, 2008 to 2014, was “the CEO of Continental Divide International, a business development consulting company.”

Ryan Zinke, from, 2008 to 2014, was “the CEO of Continental Divide International, a business development consulting company.”Continental Divide International was, in accordance with an ordinance passed in 2010, required to have a Home Occupation Business License but did not apply with the City of Whitefish for a Home Occupation Business License until December 17, 2013. As such, it was operating for years without a license from the city.

[Buck Traxler, “Conrad punches ticket for Livingstone-Zinke stop,” Independent-Observer, 07/20/13, “Business Licensing Provisions,” City of Whitefish, accessed 07/09/17, and Home Occupation Business License Application for Continental Divide International, LLC, 12/17/13]

Jamie and Ryan Zinke, in 2011, created Double Tap LLC.

Jamie and Ryan Zinke, in 2011, created Double Tap LLC. Ryan Zinke has been the managing member of Double Tap LLC since 2011. Double Tap LLC, in 2013, was involuntarily dissolved by the State of Montana due to failure to file “legally required Annual Reports and fees.” Double Tap LLC last filed an annual report in 2012.

[Articles of Organization for Double Tap LLC, 06/06/11, Involuntary Dissolution Notice for Double Tap LLC, 2013, Double Tap, LLC Annual Reports, and Ryan Zinke’s OGE Form 278e, 12/18/16]

Ryan Zinke was the president of On Point Montana, LLC.

Ryan Zinke was the president of On Point Montana, LLC, “a security consulting firm,” from January 2012 to December 2014. In 2013, On Point Montana, LLC was involuntarily dissolved by the State of Montana for failure to file legally required annual reports and fees. It last filed an annual report with the State of Montana in 2012.

[Ryan Zinke’s OGE Form 278e, 12/18/16, Involuntary Dissolution Notice for On Point Montana, LLC, 2013, On Point Montana, LLC Annual Reports, and Charles Johnson, “U.S. House candidate Zinke amasses more wealth than Lewis,” Missoulian, 07/16/14]

Political Connections

Since becoming Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke has maintained strong ties with donors and has attended numerous political events.

From March 30 to April 1, 2017, Ryan Zinke went “on an official trip related to the Interior Department’s role overseeing the U.S. territory,” and after attending official events appeared in his “personal capacity” at local Republican party fundraiser, tickets for which “ranged from $75 per person to as much as $5,000 per couple to be an event ‘Patron,'” and at which “Patrons and members of the host committee… could get a photo with Zinke.” [Ben Lefebvre and Esther Whieldon, “Trump’s Interior chief ‘hopping around from campaign event to campaign event’,” Politico, 10/05/17]

In May 2017, Ryan Zinke joined Mike Pence to campaign for Republican candidate Greg Gianforte, urging Montana voters to vote for Gianforte in Montana’s special election to fill the congressional seat Zinke left open when he joined the Trump administration. [“The Latest: Zinke Urges Fellow Montanans to Pick Gianforte,” Associated Press, 05/12/17]

Ryan Zinke said it was “official business,” when in June 2017 he “gave a motivational speech” to the Vegas Golden Knights, a professional hockey team owned by Bill Foley, one of Zinke’s “‘major'” campaign donors who “heavily bankroll[ed] Zinke’s first congressional campaign in Montana.” Foley is also the board chairman of Fidelity National Financial Inc., which “donated $154,823 to Zinke between the years of 2013 and 2018. Fidelity also owns Chicago Title Services, which donated 23,900 to Zinke.” [Miranda Green, “Investigations opened into Zinke’s meeting with Golden Knights hockey team,” CNN, 10/04/17, and Ben Lefebvre and Esther Whieldon, “Trump’s Interior chief ‘hopping around from campaign event to campaign event’,” Politico, 10/05/17]

On June 25, 2017, Ryan Zinke attended “a meeting of the Rule of Law Defense Fund, a group of Republican attorneys general that has been linked to the Koch brothers.” [Ben Lefebvre and Esther Whieldon, “Trump’s Interior chief ‘hopping around from campaign event to campaign event’,” Politico, 10/05/17]

In Denver, on July 20, 2017, Ryan Zinke went to “a closed-door reception for the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of conservative state legislators, lobbyists and industry groups that has pushed for more state control over federal lands.” On the same July 2017 trip, Ryan Zinke “was a featured speaker” at a Colorado Republican Committee Round Table, and “attended the Western Conservative Summit in Denver.” [Ben Lefebvre and Esther Whieldon, “Trump’s Interior chief ‘hopping around from campaign event to campaign event’,” Politico, 10/05/17, and “Official Travel Schedule of the Secretary,” Department of Interior, 10/06/17]

The White House has coordinated Secretary Zinke’s speaking at various Republican political events, including the keynote remarks he gave at the Republican National Committee Spring Meeting Dinner in May 2017 and his speech at the Rule of Law Defense Fund in June 2017.

Julia Griswold, who is an Executive Assistant in the Office of the President, emailed Scott Hommel and Caroline Boulton on May 20, 2017, to say “The Republican Attorney General Association has requested Secretary Zinke to be their keynote speaker at their Summer National Meeting on June 25th at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe. If he is interested, maybe it would be a great opportunity to do additional Nevada stops [which we would love]. This trip could be official or political with expenses paid by RAGA, which I would coordinate.” [17-00707, Page 2710; EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS ON WHITE HOUSE OFFICE PERSONNEL, 06/30/17]

Ryan Zinke spoke at the Rule of Law Defense Fund event in Nevada on June 25, 2017. [17-00658ch, Page 197]

Julia Griswold of the White House also coordinated with Department of the Interior staff to coordinate the Keynote Remarks he gave at the RNC Spring Meeting Dinner in Coronado California on May 11, 2017. On May 1, 2017, Julia Griswold emailed Scott Hommel, Secretary Zinke’s chief of staff, saying “On the travel front, who would you like me to work with in your shop? I’ll work with the RNC on payment once we get all the preferred travel figured out. Will he want to stay overnight at the hotel do you think?” [17-00707, Page 2762; 17-00658ch, Page 136]

Caroline Boulton, Secretary Zinke’s scheduler, talked to the Office of Special Counsel, and determined that “RNC need[ed] to pay for travel from SLC to SAN [and his hotel stay] and then from SAN to SLC, but that DOI need[ed] to pay for the portion from SLC to BIL.” [17-00707, Page 2770]

Secretary Ryan Zinke acted as President Trump’s mouthpiece when he called Lisa Murkowski after she voted against taking up repealing ObamaCare to tell her “Alaska’s standing with the administration was at risk” due to her vote.

In July 2017, Ryan Zinke called Lisa Murkowski to tell her “‘the President [was] really disappointed'” with her after she voted against “GOP efforts to advance the party’s health care bill.” Zinke warned Murkowski that “Alaska’s standing with the administration was at risk due to Murkowski’s dissent.” It was “notable” that Zinke, “whose department has no direct role in efforts to reform health care, would bring up the issue with a sitting senator.” [Miranda Green, “Murkowski says Zinke contacted her in wake of health care votes,” CNN, 07/27/17]

In response to Secretary Ryan Zinke threatening “projects important to Alaska in retribution” for Senator Lisa Murkowski voting “against taking up Obamacare repeal – to warn them that the administration’s support for energy projects in the state are now at risk,” the Government Accountability Office “is writing a legal opinion” on the appropriateness of Zinke’s doing so. [Elana Schor and Ben Lefebvre, ” Democrats vow investigation, lawsuit over ‘political blackmail’ against Murkowski,” Politico, 07/27/17, and Sara Ganim “Inspector general reports coming soon on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke,” CNN, 04/10/18]

Secretary Zinke attended a campaign fundraiser for Oregon Congressman Greg Walden, an event for which Interior would have to be reimbursed by the campaign. However, there is still no record of Walden’s campaign paying Secretary Zinke in the latest Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports.

Ryan Zinke attended a July 2017 “fundraiser for Republican Rep. Greg Walden in Oregon, which was reported in a local media account from the time.” Secreatry Zinke’s press secretary “said Interior has issued an invoice to Walden’s campaign for that trip.” However, according to Federal Election Commission filings, Walden’s campaign still hasn’t made any payment to Interior. [Ben LeFebvre, “Interior reimbursed for Zinke Virgin Island fundraiser, but contributions unaccounted for,” Politico, 12/19/17 and Search for Greg Walden Campaign Filings, Federal Election Commission, accessed 07/19/18]

Lola Zinke received a meeting request for Secretary Ryan Zinke from conservative group Concerned Women for America (CWA). CWA wanted Secretary Zinke to meet with one of their “big donors” who worked in oil and gas. It is unclear if the meeting happened: Secretary Zinke was “interested” in having the meeting, but the meeting does not appear on his calendar.

On August 17, 2017, Lola Zinke, Secretary Zinke’s wife, forwarded an email to what appears to be Secretary Zinke’s scheduler Caroline Boulton’s personal email. The email Zinke forwarded was from Caroline Aderholt, the Chief of Staff of Concerned Women for America (CWA). CWA describes itself as the “nation’s largest public policy women’s organization with a rich history of over 35 years of helping our members across the country bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy.” Aderholt was requesting a meeting for one of CWA’s “big donors,” Will Mills, with Secretary Zinke. She described Mills as being from Lafayette, Louisiana, “in the oil and gas business.” [Who We Are, Concerned Women for America, accessed 05/09/18; 17-07007, Pages 1388-1389]

Caroline Boulton forwarded the email from an email address that has been redacted (likely her personal email) to her government email, and then sent it to Leila Getto, the Deputy Director of Scheduling and Advance in the Department of the Interior.

According to Getto, Secretary Zinke was “interested” in having a meeting with Mills “set up for that first week in September.” [17-07007, Pages 1388-1389]

No meeting with Mills appears on Secretary Zinke’s September 2017 calendar. [Secretary Ryan Zinke September 2017 Calendar, Department of the Interior]

On April 27, 2017, the day before he spoke at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention, Secretary Ryan Zinke appointed Susan LaPierre, the wife of the NRA’s CEO, to the National Park Foundation’s Board of Directors.

On April 28, 2017, Secretary Ryan Zinke went to Atlanta, Georgia to speak at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention. [Ryan Zinke April 2017 Calendar, Department of the Interior; Jennifer Brett, “Atlanta NRA meeting to draw guns, Trump, protesters,” Atlanta Journal Constitution, 04/28/17]

On April 27, 2017, the day before he spoke at the NRA’s annual convention in Atlanta, Secretary Ryan Zinke appointed Susan LaPierre, Co-Chair of NRA’s Women’s Leadership Forum and wife of National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, to the “Board of Directors of the National Park Foundation, the charitable wing of the Park Service.” In his letter appointing LaPierre to the Board, Secretary Zinke said that the Board “[sought] to significantly increase private philanthropic gifts to the national parks in the coming years” and told LaPierre that her “insight and experience [would] be invaluable.” [17007-07, Page 5559; Mike Spies, “Leaked Parks Department Memo Raises Questions about the NRA’s Relationship With the Interior Department,” The Trace, 08/24/17; Jennifer Brett, “Atlanta NRA meeting to draw guns, Trump, protesters,” Atlanta Journal Constitution, 04/28/17]

LaPierre’s “appointment wasn’t formally announced,” but she “posted about it on her Facebook page.” [Mike Spies, “Leaked Parks Department Memo Raises Questions about the NRA’s Relationship With the Interior Department,” The Trace, 08/24/17]

On July 4, 2017, the Zinkes had what Lola Zinke described as “our 4th of July party at Department of Interior” that included catered BBQ and watching fireworks for Secretary Zinke’s Department of the Interior balcony. Lola Zinke had Interior staff send out party invitations on her behalf. Among the invitees were foreign ambassadors, DC socialites, the attorneys that represented the Zinkes when they were sued by their former DC landlord, and lobbyist Don Bramer—who chairs a Super PAC that previously donated to Zinke’s congressional campaign.

Lola Zinke personally invited the Peruvian ambassador Carlos Pareja and his wife, Mrs. Consuelo Salinas Pareja, to Interior’s July 4th celebration. She described the event as “our 4th of July party at Department of Interior.” She continued, “We will have a catered BBQ and watch fireworks from the Secretary’s balcony after.” [17-00707, Page 638]

Lola Zinke had Interior staffer Natalie Davis send invitations to Interior’s July 4th celebration to DC socialite Mariella Trager and her husband, Michael Trager. [“Red-Hot Revenge,” Modern Luxury, 09/04/13; 17-00707, Page 668]

Lola Zinke had Interior staffer Natalie Davis send an invitation to Interior’s July 4th celebration to Donald Bramer, lobbyist and chairman of Bramer Group LLC, and he attended. Bramer is also the Chairman of Defend Our Nation Political Action Committee. In May 2016, the PAC gave $2,500 to Ryan Zinke’s congressional race. [Defend Our Nation PAC Donations to Zinke for Congress, Federal Election Commission, 05/04/16; LinkedIn Profile for Donald Bramer, accessed 05/01/18, 17-00707, Page 680; Search for Donald Bramer, Senate Lobbying Disclosure Database, accessed 05/01/18]

Lola Zinke had Interior staffer Caroline Boulton add additional guests to the July 4th party guest list, including Sevil Altsinoy, who works for Turkish Airlines. Later that summer, Altsinoy was with the Zinkes in Turkey. [17-00707, Page 1560; Facebook Photo by Sinan Yalcin, 08/16/17]

Lola Zinke had Interior staffer Natalie Davis send Sam Neel of McDermott, Will & Emery an invitation to the DOI July 4th party, and he attended. Neel represented the Zinkes when they were sued by their landlords for “breaching their contract” and “‘wrongfully abandon[ing]'” their DC apartment. The other attorney who represented the Zinkes, Steven Ryan, also attended the party. [17-00707, Pages 668-669, 715; Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Washington DC. V. Ryan Zinke et. al., 2016 CA-007772-B]

There were a host of other lobbyists and political consultants attending the party, including: former Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg, Mercury Public Affairs—one of the two groups that worked with Paul Manafort when he worked on behalf of the Ukrainian government, and Kimberly Bellissimo, a friend of the Zinkes and a former consultant to Zinke’s congressional campaign.

Secretary Ryan Zinke and Lola Zinke invited Azerbaijani Ambassador Elin Suleymanov and his wife Lala Abdurahimova to Interior’s July 4th celebration. [17-00707, Page 623; Gail Scott, “Husband-Wife Diplomats Introduce U.S. to Their Emerging Nation,” The Washington Diplomat, 07/30/13; 17-00707, Page 715]

Upon Heather Swift’s advice, Secretary Zinke invited political ad maker Bill Kenyon to Interior’s July 4th celebration. Kenyon was the political director of Strategic Perception Inc. at the time the company shot the “Debbie Spenditnow” Super Bowl ad which was criticized as racist against Asian Americans. [Steven Yaccino and Jonathan Weisman, “Ad Draws Protests for Portrayal of Asians,” New York Times, 02/06/12; 17-00707, Pages 6547,715]

Former Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg, who is now a “Co-Chairman” at the public affairs firm Mercury and has been a lobbyist for Westlands Water District and Cemex, also attended the Fourth of July party. Mercury Public Affairs was one of the two groups “working with [Paul] Manafort and his partner Rick Gates from 2012-2014 in lobbying to improve the image of the Ukrainian government.” Manafort and Gates first solicited Mercury in February 2012 and began working with them sometime before April 8, 2012. [Tom Hamburger and Carol Leoning, “Amid swirl of controversy, Democratic power lobbyist Tony Podesta steps down,” Washington Post, 10/30/17, and United States of America v. Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, 1:17-cr-00201, 10/27/17; Hon. Denny Rehberg Biography, Mercury, accessed 12/20/17 and “Search Results for ‘Rehberg, Denny,'” Senate Lobbying Disclosure Database, accessed 11/19/1717-00707, Page 715]

Jean Sagouspe, who is on the board of directors of the conservative Steamboat Institute, also attended the Fourth of July party. [“Jean Pierre Sagouspe,” The Steamboat Institute, accessed 12/19/17; 17-00707, Page 715]

Joe and Kathy Ferreira also attended Interior’s Fourth of July party. Joe Ferreira is executive vice president at Peduzzi Associates. Peduzzi Associates is a “lobbying and consulting firm” that has employed current DOI staff Micah Chambers and Scott Hommel. [“Scott Hommel,” Department of Influence, accessed 12/19/17; “Micah Chambers,” Department of Influence, accessed 12/19/17; Joe Ferreira Facebook page, accessed 12/19/17; 17-00707, Page 715]

Kimberly Bellissimo also attended the Fourth of July party. Bellissimo is a friend of Lola Zinke’s on Facebook and the CEO and founder of ForthRight Strategy, a direct mail fundraising firm that was a consultant for Ryan Zinke’s congressional campaign. Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli describes ForthRight Strategy as part of a “‘national fundraising scam'” and the company was criticized by GOP Representative Will Hurd of Texas as “‘preying on seniors in a disgusting attempt to enrich themselves.'” Zinke’s praise of the firm appeared on its website until Campaign for Accountability filed an ethics complaint. [“Clients,” ForthRight Strategy, accessed 12/19/17; Ben Lefebvre and Nick Juliano, “Zinke funneled millions to questionable PACs,” Politico, 10/24/17; 17-00707, Page 715]

Jon Hrobsky, a top lobbyist at Interior Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt’s old lobbying firm, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, also attended the Fourth of July party. Horbsky is currently lobbying the Interior Department on behalf of many of Bernhardt’s former clients.

Another notable person invited to the Fourth of July event was Jon Hrobsky, who at the time was policy director for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and has since been promoted to lead Brownstein’s Energy Practice. Shortly after the Fourth of July party, fellow Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck alum David Bernhardt was confirmed as Deputy Secretary of the Interior. Hrobsky is still lobbying Interior on behalf of Bernhardt’s old clients, including Taylor Energy Company, Statoil, and Cobalt International Energy. [17-00707, Page 715; LinkedIn Profile for Jon Hrobsky, accessed 05/01/18, Search for Jon Hrobsky, Senate Lobbying Disclosure Database, accessed 05/01/18; Profile for David Bernhardt, Department of Influence, accessed 05/01/18; Theodoric Meyer, “Chambliss’ role in Equifax hearings a mystery,” Politico, 10/06/17]

For all the other Fourth of July guests there is an “organization” listed to indicate how they were invited—either by the Zinkes, the White House, they were political staff, etc. Interestingly, there is no “organization” listed for Hrobsky, making it unclear how he received the invitation. [17-00707, Page 715]

Secretary Zinke, in an “unusual” appearance, traveled to Fredericktown, Pennsylvania, on February 23, 2018, purportedly to announce nationwide mine reclamation grants. However, the the next day he gave a Fox News interview from the 18th Congressional District just two miles away from where had been on his official trip, saying he was “concerned” about  the close special congressional election happening there, as there was “a group of Democrats that want obstruction.” This trip may have violated the Hatch Act.

On March 13, Pennsylvania will hold a special election in CD 18. Despite Donald Trump winning the district by 20 points in 2016, this race is reportedly a “dead heat.” In the past few weeks, President Donald Trump and Vice President have both held fundraisers for Republican candidate Rick Saccone. [Jacob Pramuk & John W. Schoen, “Special House election is a dead heat in a Pennsylvania district Trump won by 20 points,” CNBC, 02/27/18, Alex Isenstadt, “Pence to headline Trump hotel dinner to raise money for GOP candidates,” Politico, 01/28/18, and Alex Isenstadt, “Trump set to hold fundraiser for Saccone,” Politico, 02/13/18]

On February 23, 2018, Ryan Zinke traveled to the East Bethlehem Volunteer Fire Company in Fredericktown, Pennsylvania, roughly two miles from the current 18th congressional district, to announce mine reclamation grants for states and Indian tribes. While Zinke announced $300 million in grant funding, only $55.7 million of that is allocated to Pennsylvania. [Rick Shrum, “Interior secretary brings mine reclamation funds to area,” Observer-Reporter, 02/24/18, Courtney Linder, “Pennsylvania receives $55 million to redevelop coal refuse sites,” Pittsburgh Post-Tribune, 02/24/18, and “Find Your Representative,” U.S. House of Representatives, accessed 02/27/18]

State Rep. Pam Snyder [D-Jefferson] commented on how abnormal it was to have a Cabinet member in Fredericktown, saying, “‘It probably wouldn’t be unusual if the secretary of the Interior came to Harrisburg, Pittsburgh or Philadelphia […] But to have the secretary in Fredericktown is unusual.'”

On February 24, 2018, sometime between 10 am – 12 pm, Fox News host Neil Cavuto interviewed Ryan Zinke about the 18th district congressional race, and said he was “there right now advocating in Pennsylvania.” When asked specifically about the 18th district campaign, Zinke said he was “concerned,” claiming it was “hard to get things done when you have a group of Democrats that want obstruction.” [“Secretary Ryan Zinke on energy initiative, Pennsylvania race,” Fox News, 02/24/18]

“The Office of Special Counsel is considering” whether or not Secretary Zinke announcing “$56 million in grants to help clean up abandoned mining sites at an event with state Rep. Rick Saccone,” who was a Republican congressional “candidate in…[a] tight race,” violated the Hatch Act. [Sara Ganim, “Inspector general reports coming soon on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke,” CNN, 04/10/18]

When Governor Rick Scott, who is now a U.S. Senate candidate, and Secretary Ryan Zinke announced “that Florida was ‘off the table’ for offshore oil drilling,” Secretary Zinke may have violated the Hatch Act.

When Governor Rick Scott, who is now a U.S. Senate candidate, and Secretary Ryan Zinke announced “that Florida was ‘off the table’ for offshore oil drilling, the governor cast the hastily arranged news conference at the Tallahassee airport as unplanned and the Trump administration’s decision as something Scott had influenced at the eleventh hour,” but “Zinke’s top advance staffer…was in Tallahassee the previous day…and top officials from the offices of both Scott and the secretary were in regular contact for several days leading up to the announcement.” The event “was carefully choreographed to give Scott a political win.” [Matt Dixon, “Records show Trump aides plotted political win for Rick Scott,” Politico, 03/27/18]

“The Office of Special Counsel is considering” whether or not this is a Hatch Act violation. [Sara Ganim, “Inspector general reports coming soon on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke,” CNN, 04/10/18]

“Republican donors paid up to $5,000 per couple for a photo with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at a [Republican Party] fundraiser held during a taxpayer-funded trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands,” which raised “questions about his habit of mixing official government business with political activism.”

“Republican donors paid up to $5,000 per couple for a photo with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at a [Republican Party St. Croix] fundraiser held during a taxpayer-funded trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands,” which raised “questions about his habit of mixing official government business with political activism.” Secretary “Zinke took a $3,150 flight on a private plane, paid for by the department, from St. Croix to official functions on St. Thomas and returned later that evening.” [Ben Lefebvre and Esther Whieldon, “Trump’s Interior chief ‘hopping around from campaign event to campaign event”, Politico, 10/05/17]

Ethics watchdogs say this activity “risks tripping over the prohibitions against using government resources for partisan activity.” [Ben Lefebvre and Esther Whieldon, “Trump’s Interior chief ‘hopping around from campaign event to campaign event’,” Politico, 10/05/17]

Ryan Zinke launched the Supporting Electing American Leaders [SEAL] PAC “when he was elected to Congress in 2014” and has since “disaffiliated himself from the group.” Vincent DeVito, now a top Interior aide of Zinke’s, was the treasurer of SEAL PAC until May 2017. Kimberley Bellissimo, a friend of the Zinkes who runs a direct mail company that SEAL PAC uses, has been accused of working with “‘scam PACs'” that “raise small-dollar donations from conservative voters but then spend the bulk of the money on consultants and overhead.” SEAL PAC has continued to use the services of Forth Right Strategies and other Bellissimo companies since he started at Interior.

Ryan Zinke launched Supporting Electing American Leaders [SEAL] Political Action Committee [PAC] “when he was elected to Congress in 2014. Hedisaffiliated himself from the group after being selected to join President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.” [Marianne Levine and Theodric Meyer, “Senior GOP aide joins BGR,” Politico, 05/7/18]

During the 2016 election cycle, Vincent DeVito was Treasurer of SEAL PAC. DeVito served as Treasurer of SEAL PAC until May 2017, when he started serving in the newly created role of Secretary Zinke’s energy policy advisor at the Interior Department. [Ben Lefebvre, “FEC increases scrutiny of Zinke’s former PAC,” Politico, 04/02/18; Corbin Hiar, “Zinke creates energy policy post for former PAC treasurer,” Energy & Environment, 05/01/17]

ForthRight Strategy is a direct mail firm that works for “conservative nonprofit and advocacy organizations.” [Who We Are, Forth Right Strategy, 04/03/18]

In the 2016 election cycle SEAL PAC used “ForthRight Strategy, Direct Support Services and Legacy Lists — all of which operate out of the same office and list ForthRight CEO Kimberly Bellissimo among their executives.” Additionally, “as Interior secretary [Zinke] helped raise money for a Virgin Islands-based PAC that was another top client of Bellissimo’s firms.”

Kimberly Bellissimo has “been accused by some prominent conservatives of working with ‘scam PACs’ that raise money by allegedly misleading conservative donors,” which “raise small-dollar donations from conservative voters but then spend the bulk of the money on consultants and overhead.” [Ben Lefebvre and Nick Juliano, “Zinke funneled millions to questionable PACs,” Politico Pro, 10/24/17; Ben Lefebvre and Nick Juliano, “Top Zinke aide’s wife has worked for controversial fundraiser,” Politico Pro, 10/27/17]

Kimberly “Bellissimo also appears to be friends with Zinke and his wife, Lolita, judging by their interactions on social media. In February 2016, Bellissimo posted a photo to Facebook of her and her husband with Ryan Zinke and Rob O’Neill, a former Navy SEAL who claims to have shot Osama Bin Laden. Lolita Zinke commented ‘beautiful lady,’ to which Bellissimo replied, ‘Back at ‘ya Lady Z!’ On May 12, 2016, Bellissimo posted a photo of her with Lolita Zinke and Lucretia Hommel at the annual First Lady’s Lunch hosted by the Congressional Club at the Washington Hilton.” [Ben Lefebvre and Nick Juliano, “Top Zinke aide’s wife has worked for controversial fundraiser,” Politico Pro, 10/27/17]

Since March 2017 when Ryan Zinke was sworn in as the Secretary of the Interior, SEAL PAC has continued to use ForthRight Strategy, Direct Support Services and Legacy Lists for PAC List Acquisition and PAC Direct Mail services. [SEAL PAC Disbursements, Federal Election Commission, 01/01/17 – 04/03/18]

Kimberly Bellissimo and Terry Davis were both listed as Secretary Zinke’s guests at his 2017 4th of July party at the Interior Department. [17-00707, Department of the Interior, DOI Fourth of July Guest List]

On September 27, 2017, during an official trip to Monmouth Beach, New Jersey to visit the Gateway National Recreation Area, Secretary Zinke appears to have spent the night at the beach house of Kimberly Bellissimo and her husband, Terry Davis. His schedule for the afternoon of September 27, 2018 says “Department Gateway National Recreation Area en route Monmouth Beach, NJ” and then next on his schedule is “Downtime at RON [Residence Over Night].” The location of “RON” is “Residence of Kimberly Bellisimo & Terry Davis.” Zinke’s schedule then said he Department RON for dinner, had dinner, and returned to RON for the rest of the evening. [17-00413cd, Department of the Interior, Page 24]

This appears to be the same Monmouth, New Jersey Beach house that Lucretia Hommel, wife of top Zinke Interior aide Scott Hommel, recently redecorated through her interior design company, Snobz Interior Design. [Facebook Post by Lucretia Franklyn Hommel, 01/01/17, accessed 04/03/18]

“Secretary Ryan Zinke’s congressional campaign committee” may have “provided illegal benefits to Zinke’s family or friends” since he became Interior Secretary.

“Secretary Ryan Zinke’s congressional campaign committee bought an RV” in 2016 for $59,100 “from his wife then sold it to a friend” in 2017 for $25,000. This pair of transactions may have “provided illegal benefits to Zinke’s family or friends.” [Politico, 10/30/17]

Maine Governor Paul LePage, on June 13, 2017, “gifted” Secretary Ryan Zinke a dinner of $30. Secretary Zinke “enjoyed” his dinner with Governor LePage.

On June 13, 2017, Secretary Ryan Zinke had dinner with Maine Governor Paul LePage. Secretary Zinke “enjoyed” the dinner “greatly.” Governor LePage “gifted” the dinner to Secretary Zinke, at a cost “estimated at $30.00 per person.” [Press Release, Department of the Interior, 06/08/17; FOIA Response OS-17-00938, Pages 8-9]

Five high-level Interior Department political appointees have worked on Ryan Zinke’s campaigns or for one of his political action committees, and Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt has donated to Ryan Zinke’s congressional campaigns.

Scott Hommel was the treasurer for Special Operations for America PAC, a super PAC that helped fund Zinke’s 2014 congressional race. Once Zinke was elected to Congress, he appointed Hommel to be his Chief of Staff. After becoming Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke made Hommel his Chief of Staff at Interior. [Department of Interior, Press Release, 05/26/17, Legistorm Profile for Scott Hommel, accessed 05/25/17, and “Etc.,” Missoula Independent, 11/07/13]

Vincent DeVito was the treasurer of Ryan Zinke’s Political Action Committee in the 2016 election cycle. In May 2017, through Secretarial Order number 3351, Zinke created an “energy advisory post” for DeVito at the Interior Department, a role in which DeVito is currently serving. [Corbin Hiar, “Zinke creates energy policy post for former PAC treasurer,” Energy and Environment, 05/01/17]

Micah Chambers was the Deputy Political Director on Ryan Zinke’s 2014 congressional campaign and then served as Zinke’s Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director on Capitol Hill. Chambers is now Acting Director of Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs at Interior. [LinkedIn Profile for Micah Chambers, accessed 06/09/17, and Legistorm Profile for Micah Chambers, accessed 05/25/17]

According to her LinkedIn, Heather Swift was Ryan Zinke’s Deputy Campaign Manager and Spokesperson and also his official Communications Director. She is currently serving as the Interior Department’s Press Secretary. [LinkedIn Profile for Heather Swift, accessed 10/05/17]

Alan Mikkelsen “took over as Zinke’s campaign manager in August 2013 when Zinke was seeking Montana’s congressional seat and served until April 2015.” Alan Mikkelsen is now serving as the Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. [Dillon Tabish, “Zinke Names Former Campaign Manager to Reclamation Department,” Flathead Beacon, 04/20/17]

David Bernhardt, the Deputy Secretary of the Interior, contributed $500 to Ryan Zinke’s congressional campaign in 2016. [Political MoneyLine Search for David Bernhardt, CQ, accessed 10/05/17]

Political Ties From Before Zinke was Interior Secretary 

  • Oil & Gas Ties

Ryan Zinke has taken in more than $355,000 in political contributions from the oil and gas industry. 

Ryan Zinke has taken in more than $355,000 in political contributions from the oil and gas industry. Some of the top donors to Zinke’s congressional campaigns include Oasis Petroleum, Haliburton, and the Red Apple Group.

[Search for Ryan Zinke, Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 07/07/17, and “Donors,” Center for Responsive Politics, accessed 07/12/17]

  • Coal Ties

Ryan Zinke, since becoming a member of Congress, has accepted over $31,000 from the coal industry.

Ryan Zinke, since becoming a member of Congress, has accepted over $31,000 from the coal industry. Some of his largest contributors are Alpha Natural Resources PAC, Arch Coal PAC, and Peabody Energy Corporation PAC. He has also accepted contributions from Cloud Peak Energy Resources PAC, Hecla Mining PAC, and the National Mining Association PAC.

[Political Moneyline Search for Ryan Zinke, CQ, accessed 07/07/17 and National Institute on Money in State Politics Search for Ryan Zinke, accessed 07/12/17]

  • White Supremacist Ties

In 2014, “Earl Holt, the leader of the Council of Conservative Citizens, made a $500 donation to [Ryan] Zinke’s election campaign.” The Council of Conservative Citizens is described as “a white supremacist group cited by Charleston” convicted church murderer Dylann Roof. A manifesto “purportedly written by Roof says he learned about ‘brutal black on white murders’ from the Council of Conservative Citizens website.” Zinke’s spokesperson said he would donate the money “to a fund set up for the families of the victims of the Charleston shooting.”

[“Zinke to donate funds from White Supremacist,” Associated Press, 06/22/15]

Ryan Zinke, in 2014, also received a $500 donation “from Richard Spencer, director of the National Policy Institute now based in Whitefish that bills itself as a think-tank dedicated to the ‘heritage, identity, and future of European people.'” Zinke’s spokesperson said he would also donate this $500.

[“Zinke to donate funds from White Supremacist,” Associated Press, 06/22/15]

Energy Dominance and Industry Favors

Secretary Ryan Zinke, in October 2017, appeared at an industry “listening session” entitled “Cut the Red Tape: Liberating America from Bureaucracy” at the White House. At the event, Secretary Zinke promised to be a “partner” to industry and apologized to an executive of a mining company for federal regulations.

At the event, Secretary Zinke said: “We’re not only going to look at every regulation we have now, but we’re going to reduce it. We’re looking at two-for-one. Every time we put something in, we’re going to try to get two out, and remove the excessive burden and again be partners.” [Video 01, Cutting the Red Tape: Liberating America from Bureaucracy, 10/02/17 [00:17:24]]

At the event, Secretary Zinke apologized to an Phil Baker, the chief executive of Hecla Mining, about government regulations. In their exchange, Baker said, “‘Hello, Secretary. Good to see you again. Phil Baker with Hecla Mining Company .… I’m here to tell you and others about the impediments to mining from the permitting regime we have.’” To which Secretary “Zinke responded: ‘On behalf of the United States government, we apologize.’” [Darryl Fears, “A mining firm executive griped to Zinke about federal pollution rules. The secretary apologized.,” Washington Post, 03/28/18]

Moreover, Hecla had recently been “labeled a ‘bad actor’ by the [Montana] Department of Environmental Quality because of Baker’s ties to the defunct Pegasus Gold of Spokane, Wash,” where there had been “major toxic contamination.” [Darryl Fears, “A mining firm executive griped to Zinke about federal pollution rules. The secretary apologized,” Washington Post, 03/28/18]

The mining executive Secretary Zinke apologized to, Phil Baker, in addition to being the President of Hecla Mining Co., is the Chairman of the National Mining Association [NMA], which represents the mining industry. Since the beginning of the Trump administration, both Secretary Ryan Zinke and Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt have participated in NMA events, and NMA has met with numerous high-ranking Interior officials.

Phillips S. Baker is the President/CEO of Hecla Mining Company and is also Chairman of the National Mining Association [NMA]. [Phillips S. Baker Jr., National Mining Association, accessed 03/23/18]

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke spoke at the National Mining Association’s Spring Board of Directors meeting on March 19, 2018. [Jamie Corey, “INTERIOR SECRETARY MEETING WITH COAL INDUSTRY LOBBY GROUP BOARD OF DIRECTORS,” Documented, 03/19/18]

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was also initially scheduled to attend the National Mining Association’s annual meeting at the Trump International Hotel in October 2017, but was unable to attend the meeting because of his travel schedule. His Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt attended instead. [Juliet Eilperin and Dino Grandoni, “Three Trump Cabinet members attended mining lobbyist meeting at Trump International Hotel,” Washington Post, 10/05/17]

The National Mining Association met with high-ranking Interior officials, including Downey Magallanes, Katherine MacGregor, and James Cason, on April 4, 2017 for 45 minutes. There is no indication what the meeting was about. [Downey Magallanes’ Calendar, Department of the Interior, page 67]

In a document designed to encourage people to invest in the company, Hecla advertises that Ryan Zinke has toured its mine sites and says he is a “‘strong supporter'” of their developments, including the proposed Rock Creek mine.

Hecla produced a “corporate update” document that encourages people to “invest in Hecla.” In the document, Hecla points out that Ryan Zinke “knows” the Montanore and Rock Creek projects, “has visited our sites,” and oversees permitting agencies. [“Corporate Update,” Hecla Mining Company, March 2017]

“Hecla’s interest in Zinke’s new post has been well documented in the company’s monthly updates since before his confirmation to Interior. Those presentations note that Zinke has visited Hecla’s mine sites, that he’s a ‘strong supporter of economic development in NW Montana,’ and that he oversees the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a ‘key agency involved in permitting these projects.’ Politico Magazine reported in October that Zinke’s deputy secretary, David Bernhardt, had jotted Russell’s cellphone number in his notes during a National Mining Association board meeting that month.”  [Alex Sakariassen, “Hecla Mining’s pipeline to Zinke,” The Missoula Independent, 03/15/18]

Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department supported President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request for the Bureau of Land Management, which was “a 13 percent cut from 2017,” but it included increases in the oil and gas management and coal management programs.  

President Trump’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget request for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was a $1.1 billion budget, which was “a 13 percent cut from 2017 enacted levels.” However, the President’s budget request included a “proposed $16 million increase in the Oil and Gas Management program” and “an $8 million increase within the Coal Management program.” [“INTERIOR: Zinke defends reorganization, budget to skeptical senators,” Greenwire, 06/21/17; Department of Interior, Press Release, 05/23/17]

Secretary Zinke’s Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management, Michael Nedd, supported President Trump’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget request for the BLM.. Nedd said that the “‘President’s budget gives the BLM the resources needed to carry out our multiple-use and sustained yield mission, which includes promoting American energy and mineral production on Federal lands and supporting local economies.'” He continued, “‘The proposed budget will allow us to continue working with our non-Federal partners and strengthen these vital relationships in order to be good neighbors in the communities we serve. BLM lands create jobs in local communities, and the President’s budget supports traditional land uses such as timber harvesting, responsible energy development, grazing and recreation including hunting and fishing.'” [Department of Interior, Press Release, 05/23/17]

Additionally, Secretary Zinke supported President Trump’s proposed cuts to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). “Since 1965, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped protect civil war battlefield sites, national parks and local recreation areas,” but President Trump proposed “at least a 70 percent cut in the Land and Water Conservation Fund over current spending levels, already reduced by congressional sequestration.”

“Since 1965, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped protect civil war battlefield sites, national parks and local recreation areas.” On March 16, 2017, “President Trump proposed a $120 million cut to the LWCF and other federal land acquisition programs, calling them ‘lower priority activities.’ That reduction was part of a 12 percent proposed cut to the Department of Interior.” According to former Interior Department official Matt Lee-Ashley, “the $120 million figure represents at least a 70 percent cut in the Land and Water Conservation Fund over current spending levels, already reduced by congressional sequestration.” Ryan Zinke suggested “he was comfortable with the proposed cuts.” [Stuart Leavenworth, “Trump proposes deep cuts to financing of parks and recreation nationwide,” McClatchy, 03/16/17]

Secretary Ryan Zinke “revoked the [Interior] department’s policy on offsetting the development impacts on natural resources.”

The Obama administration expanded “the federal government’s…’no net loss’ wetlands policy, first established under President George H.W. Bush, which requires that any wetlands that are destroyed by human development be replaced somewhere else. The Obama policy…[applied] that concept to any natural resource – not just wetlands,” and encouraged “agencies to replace those resources even before they’re destroyed.” [USA Today, 11/03/15]

“Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke revoked the department’s policy on offsetting the development impacts on natural resources.” [E&E News, 03/29/17]

On March 28, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence. The following day Secretary Ryan Zinke issued a Secretarial Order on American Energy Independence, which revoked” Interior’s “policy on offsetting the development impacts on natural resources and ordered a review of all its rules on climate change, mitigation and energy development.”

On March 28, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order “on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” an executive order to “nullify President Barack Obama’s climate change efforts and revive the coal industry.” [“Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” White House, 03/28/17; Coral Davenport and Alissa J. Rubin, “Trump Signs Executive Order Unwinding Obama Climate Policies,” New York Times, 03/28/17]

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was quick to praise President Trump’s Energy Independence Executive Order. The next day, on March 29, 2017, Secretary Zinke issued Secretarial Order No. 3349, a Secretarial Order on “American Energy Independence,” intended to “implement” President Trump’s Executive Order. Secretary Zinke’s S.O. 3349 “revoked the department’s policy on offsetting the development impacts on natural resources and ordered a review of all its rules on climate change, mitigation and energy development.” [Press Release, Department of the Interior, 03/28/17; Corbin Hiar, “Zinke kills mitigation policy, orders review of energy rules,” Energy & Environment, 03/29/17]

Secretary Ryan Zinke met with extractive industry executives at least 33 times in the ten months he was Interior Secretary in 2017.

According to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s calendars that are publicly available on the Department of the Interior’s website, he had at least 27 extractive-industry related meetings, either with energy executives, or addressing industry groups, between March 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. [Secretary Zinke’s Calendars from March 2017-December 2017, Department of the Interior]

Additionally, based on Secretary Zinke’s more detailed travel schedules that are also available on the Department of the Interior’s website, Secretary Zinke either met with energy executives or toured energy facilities at least an additional six times between March 1 and December 31, 2017. [17-00658ch, Department of the Interior; 2017 Secretary Zinke Travel, Department of the Interior]

Of these total 33 encounters, ten of them, nearly one third, happened in the first two months that Secretary Zinke was at Interior. [Secretary Zinke’s Calendars from March 2017-December 2017, Department of the Interior; 17-00658ch, Department of the Interior; 2017 Secretary Zinke Travel, Department of the Interior]

See a full list of Secretary Zinke’s meetings with industry in 2017 here.

“Tucked” in Donald Trump’s “energy independence” executive order “is a sentence that” could make “it easier for energy companies to drill for oil in national parks,” historic sites, and memorials. Ryan Zinke supported this executive order.

“Tucked” in Donald Trump’s “energy independence” executive order “is a sentence that” could make “it easier for energy companies to drill for oil in national parks,” which would potentially affect “national parks where the federal government owns the surface lands but private entities retain the underground mineral rights. Some 42 park properties nationwide fall into this category, and energy companies are drilling for oil and gas in 12 of those, according to the Interior Department.”

In 2016, “the Obama administration finalized rules aimed at regulating drilling operations on national park land that previously had been exempt. The new rules also required energy companies to provide adequate bonding to ensure that spills would be cleaned up and drilling sites restored to their natural look once operations ceased.

Trump’s order directs the interior secretary to review and possibly rescind those rules – known as the 9B rules, or ‘General Provisions and Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights’ – if they are inconsistent with his energy goals.”

‘At 12 park properties, energy companies operate 534 oil and gas wells, according to the National Park Conservation Association. At more than half the properties, energy development predated the founding of the parks, [DOI spokeswoman Heather] Swift said.’” [Stuart Leavenworth, “Trump order could ease restrictions on oil and gas drilling in some national parks,” McClatchy Washington Bureau, 03/29/17]

There are currently two oil/gas wells in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, which is partly in Virginia, and 90 oil/gas wells in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, in Ohio. Based on ownership of mineral rights, oil/gas wells can also be drilled in:

  •   The Flight 93 National Memorial site in Pennsylvania;
  •   Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Pennsylvania;
  •   Friendship Hill National Historic Site in Pennsylvania;
  •   Johnstown Flood National Memorial in Pennsylvania;
  •   Steamtown National Historic Site in Pennsylvania;
  •   Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, which is partly in Pennsylvania; and
  •   Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Ohio.

“These parks are at risk of drilling because the federal government owns the surface lands and private companies own some of the mineral rights below the surface.” [Nicholas Lund, “National Parks Affected by 9B Rules,” National Parks Conservation Association, 02/10/2017]

Secretary Ryan Zinke issued a “statement in support of President Trump’s American Energy Executive Order.” [Department of the Interior, Press Release, 03/30/17]

When asked about drilling for fossil fuels on public lands, Ryan Zinke, in January 2017, said “we need an economy and jobs, too,” and said he was an “all-of-the-above” energy advocate. He continued, we “have to understand that we need an economy” and that “energy is a part of that economy.”

Zinke said on drilling for fossil fuels on public lands: “[a]gain, we need an economy and jobs, too.” When Senator Bernie Sanders told Zinke “I’m taking your answer to be yes, we should allow fossil fuel to be drilled on public lands,” Zinke responded “I’m an all-of-the-above energy — and I want to be honest with you. I’m all-of-the-above.” [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Ryan Zinke Hearing, 01/17/17]

Zinke, after saying that he was a strong supporter of NEPA, said that “we also have to understand that we need an economy” and that “energy is a part of that economy.” [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Ryan Zinke Hearing, 01/17/17]

In discussing energy policy and regulation, Zinke said “I think we need to be prudent, and always, I think we need to review things to make sure we are doing it right. Because over time, the government keeps on getting bigger and bigger, the bureaucracy gets larger and larger, and we can’t get something done.  And I think we do as a nation, should look at everything with an objective eye to get things done.” [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Ryan Zinke Hearing, 01/17/17]

Zinke said, “I know that energy production in accordance with reasonable regulation here in the United States is preferable to energy production with little or no regulation elsewhere.” [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Questionnaire, Ryan Zinke, 01/17/17]

On energy production, Zinke said, “we have to think globally on it, and it is better, and I’ve said this once before, but it is better to produce energy in America under reasonable regulation and get better over time than to watch it be produced overseas with no regulation.  That is undisputable.” [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Ryan Zinke Hearing, 01/17/17]

National Monuments

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke oversaw “the largest reduction of federal protection in the nation’s history, including an effort to slash the size of Bears Ears Monument.”

Since he has been Secretary of the Interior, Zinke “has torn up Obama-era rules related to oil, gas and mineral extraction and overseen the largest reduction of federal land protection in the nation’s history, including an effort to slash the size of Bears Ears National Monument.” [Julie Turkewitz, “Ryan Zinke Is Opening Up Public Lands. Just Not at Home,” The New York Times, 04/16/18]

Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended changing “the boundaries of a ‘handful of national monuments'” in “a largely unprecedented effort to roll back federal protection for some of America’s most popular public lands,” despite acknowledging that comments on the monument review were “overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining existing monuments.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced that he is urging President Trump “to change the boundaries of a ‘handful of national monuments'” in “a largely unprecedented effort to roll back federal protection for some of America’s most popular public lands.” [Sammy Roth, “Trump Administration Targets a ‘handful of National Monuments for Changes,” The Desert Sun, 08/24/17]

Zinke’s report summary acknowledges that the comments it received were “overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining existing monuments.” [“Report Summary by US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke,” Department of the Interior, 08/24/17]

Just days before Secretary Ryan Zinke sent his recommendation on which national monuments to reduce to the White House, Heath Heikkila, a lobbyist for the American Forest Resource Council [AFRC], a timber industry trade association, emailed Interior Principal Deputy Solicitor Daniel Jorjani documents that AFRC “thought…might be helpful as the Department finalizes the Secretary’s Antiquities Act report.” The documents argued that President Obama’s expansion of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument had been illegal. AFRC vocally opposed this monument expansion and is currently suing the Interior Department over the expansion. After Heikkila emailed Jorjani, Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended that President Trump reduce the size of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

The American Forest Resource Council [AFRC] “represents 100 companies in the timber industry,” “is based in Portland, Oregon and advocates for active, sustained yield management of public forestlands in five Western states.” In March 2017, AFRC sued the Interior Department over President Obama’s expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. The case is ongoing. [SOL- 2018-00010, Responsive Docs 1_redacted, Page 1; Brandi Buchman, “Timber Industry Says Cascade-Siskiyou Protections Threaten Loggers,” Courthouse News Service, 03/14/17; American Forest Resource Council v. United States of America et. al., Case No 1:17-cv-00441-RJL]

On August 21, 2017, just three days before Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke sent his national monuments report to the White House, American Forest Resources Council’s Director of Government Affairs Heath Heikkila emailed Interior Principal Deputy Solicitor Daniel Jorjani documents that AFRC “thought… might be helpful as the Department finalizes the Secretary’s Antiquities Act report.” Heikkila appears to be on a first name basis with Jorjani, simply calling him “Dan” in his initial email. [SOL-2018-00010, Responsive Docs 1_redacted, Page 10; Juliet Eilperin and Darryl Fears, “Interior secretary recommends Trump alter at least three national monuments, including Bears Ears,” Washington Post, 08/24/17]

Heath Heikkila attached two documents in his email to Daniel Jorjani. One was “a 1940 Solicitor’s Opinion… that the President does not have the authority to designate O&C lands as a national monument since Congress reserved them for permanent timber production.” The second was a letter from AFRC that pointed “to a more recent law, from 1990, that reaffirmed that the O&C lands have been reserved by Congress for permanent timber production.” [SOL-2018-00010, Responsive Docs 1_redacted, Page 10]

The letter, from AFRC President Travis Joseph, aimed to “bring” to Secretary Zinke’s attention, as he continued his “review of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument under Executive Order 13792,” “a 1990 law reaffirming that the O&C lands have been reserved by Congress for timber production.” AFRC argued that, “‘in conformity with the princip[le] of sustained yield,'” O&C lands are precluded from being “includ[ed]… in any National Monument. The Antiquities Act permits the President to ‘reserve parcels of land as a part of the national monuments.’ O&C lands do not fall within this authority because they have already been reserved.” [SOL-2019-00010, Responsive Docs 1_redacted, Pages 12 – 14]

On August 24, 2017, shortly after receiving these documents from AFRC, “Southern Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument” was one of the national monuments that Interior Secretary Zinke recommended that President Trump reduce. [Juliet Eilperin and Darryl Fears, “Interior secretary recommends Trump alter at least three national monuments, including Bears Ears,” Washington Post, 08/24/17; Andrew Theen, “Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument would shrink under Trump administration plan,” The Oregonian, 08/24/17]

As of March 2018, the Trump administration had yet to take any official action on Secretary Zinke’s recommendation to reduce Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. [Kurtis Alexander, “Along California-Oregon border, debate over protected lands is clash of values,” San Francisco Chronicle, 03/03/18]

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument [OMDPNM] is popular and supported by a variety of local governments, businesses, conservationists, and sportsmen groups, yet Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended changes to OMDPNM. Zinke made this recommendation after ignoring broad support and skipping a scheduled meeting with local stakeholders in the nearby town of Las Cruces, NM. Zinke may have recommended changes to the monument due to the influence of long-time lobbyist Todd Willens, who at the time was a newly-appointed assistant deputy at Interior. Willens previously worked as chief of staff to Rep. Steve Pearce, who opposed OMDPNM.

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument was supported by resolutions from the Doña Ana County Commission, the City of Las Cruces, the Town of Mesilla, and the City of Anthony. It is also supported by Senators Mark Udall and Martin Heinrich, as well as Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham. [“Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument,” The New Mexico Wildlife Federation, accessed 10/5/17] and [Press Release, “Udall, Heinrich, Luján, Lujan Grisham Urge Zinke to Protect NM’s National Monuments,” 06/20/17]

A leaked document shows that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended management changes to Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument. Though the document does not have specifics, it recommends the monument be changed to prioritize “infrastructure upgrades.” [Juliet Eilperin, “Shrink at least 4 national monuments and modify a half-dozen others, Zinke tells Trump,” The Washington Post, 09/17/17]

When Zinke visited OMDPNM in August 2017, he skipped a town hall event that drew 600 people in Las Cruces. Mesilla Mayor Nora Barraza criticized Zinke’s absence, saying Zinke “‘chose not to hear those voices'” of local people who supported the monument designation. [Walter Rubel, “Las Cruces-area leaders decry Zinke summary, await word on Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks,'” Las Cruces Sun-News, 08/28/17]

In January 2017, while Todd Willens was still his chief of staff, Rep. Steve Pearce [R-NM] “asked Trump to review the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument…” [Laura Paskus, “Pearce named to Natural Resources Committee,” NM Political Report, 01/19/17]

Todd Willens was named assistant deputy secretary at the Department of Interior in July 2017. In that role, he works “closely with Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt.” [“Former Pearce staffer named assistant deputy at Interior,” Shreveport Times, 07/12/17]

Sen. Tom Udall said he was “worried” that Rep. Pearce “‘has the ear”” of the White House on the issue of OMDPNM because Willens, “just took over as the deputy assistant secretary at Interior this month, and you can bet Zinke is seeking his input on the New Mexico monuments. Pearce himself was one of Trump’s biggest backers in the 2016 campaign, and Trump remembers stuff like that.” [Michael Coleman, “Zinke’s decision on monuments coming soon,” Albuquerque Journal, 07/23/17]

Rep. Pearce introduced legislation to try to prevent designation of OMDPNM by creating a dramatically smaller version of the monument in 2014.  [Lauren Villagran, “Organ Monument plan meeting draws crowd,” Albuquerque Journal, 01/25/14]

Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s former co-worker and fellow lobbyist at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP represented an electric wholesale and coal mining company that opposed the popular Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico. With little explanation or detail, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke included the monument on his list of monuments to be shrunk or amended.

Michael F. Feeley, in 2010, was named the department co-chair of BHFS’s government relation’s group. In that role, he “provide[d] representation before the legislative and executive branches” for Tri-State Generation and Power and other clients. [“Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck Names Adam Agron, Michael Feeley, and Ana Lazo Tenzer as Department Chairs,” Brownstein Hyatt Website, 02/22/10]

Michael F. Feeley still works for BHFS, where he is a state lobbyist and “power player for the firm.” Feeley says BHFS’s “connection to politics is second nature” because it has “‘government relations in its DNA.'” [Mark Matthews, “Colorado Lobbying Firm Brings Clout to DC,” The Denver Post, 04/9/16]

The Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association has also employed BHFS to lobby in Colorado. [“Client Search Result,” Colorado Secretary of State, accessed 09/25/17]

A leaked document shows that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended management changes to Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument. Though the document does not have specifics, it recommends the monument be changed to prioritize “infrastructure upgrades.” [Juliet Eilperin, “Shrink at least 4 national monuments and modify a half-dozen others, Zinke tells Trump,” The Washington Post, 09/17/17]

The Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, in March 2013, was concerned that Rio Grande del Norte National Monument could “raise questions for a transmission line” it was planning on building from San Luis Valley into New Mexico. [Matt Hildner, “Monument could Threaten Transmission Line, ” The Pueblo Chieftain, 03/24/13]

The Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association “pulled the plug” on its controversial power line from San Luis Valley into New Mexico in March 2015, citing “the potential delay and added cost of getting permitting for the sections of line that would have had to cut across through the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument.” [Matt Hildner, “Tri-State: No Power Line to NM,” The Pueblo Chieftain, 03/28/15]

When Tri-State Generation cancelled its power line, the company blamed President Obama’s establishment of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, “which for all practical purposes eliminated the feasibility of any route…” [“Written Statements and Comments of Joel Bladow on Behalf of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc.,” FERC Docket No. AD15-4-00, accessed 09/18/17]

Questa Mayor Esther Garcia, a proponent of Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument, said she opposed Tri-State’s plan to build a power transmission line that could pass through the monument. [Andy Stiny, “Eagles, The Gorge, and the Rio Grande,” Albuquerque Journal, 02/28/14]

Taos Council member Andrew Gonzales said the power would be “an eyesore” and anticipated “‘huge resistance’ to the proposal from governing bodies and the general public.” [Deborah Baker, “Power Line may go through New Monument,” Albuquerque Journal, 05/26/13]

At a recent sportsmen rally in Taos, speakers speculated that because of Zinke’s recommendation, “Tri-State Generation and Transmission would be encouraged to build a 230 KV transmission line” through Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument, which would result in “disturbing management of the fishing and migration patterns of wildlife.” [Bill Whaley, “New Mexican’s Earth First,” Taos Friction Blog, 09/24/17]

“The creation of Rio Grande del Norte National Monument was promoted by a broad coalition of local communities and stakeholders, including chambers of commerce, dozens of local businesses, Taos Pueblo, hunting and angler organizations and environment advocates… The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association has no specific criticism of the Rio Grande del Norte designation and neither does a statewide ranchers group, the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association.” [T.S. Last, “A ‘Geographic Dilemma,'” Albuquerque Journal, 07/1/17]

Karen Cowan of the New Mexico Cattlegrowers Association said of Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument, “we had one or two members who called and expressed concerns, but by in large, it appears that the community came together and did what they wanted to do… our members who drive our policy seem to be satisfied.” [New Mexico In Focus Episode 1101, KNME-TV, 07/10/17, (05:09)]

In July 2017, Secretary Ryan Zinke travelled to Nevada as part of his national monuments review. The original schedule for his trip had stakeholder meetings scheduled for Sunday, July 30, 2017, and a monument tour scheduled for Monday, July 31, 2017. However, after President Trump requested that Secretary Zinke attend a “Salute American Heroes Event” and a Make America Great Again campaign rally with him on July 25, 2017, Interior staff “reconfigure[d]” Secretary Zinke’s schedule. Then, at the last minute Secretary Zinke had to cut his Nevada tour short so he “could return to Washington, D.C., for a meeting with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.” He canceled his stakeholder meetings that would have taken place on Monday July 31, 2017, but he was still able to find time on July 30, 2017, for a “private hike” at “Gold Butte with BLM officials and Republican politicians.”

As part of his 2017 national monuments review, Secretary Ryan Zinke travelled to Nevada to “hear opposing views on two Nevada national monuments.” [Henry Brean, “Ryan Zinke expected in Nevada on Monday for monument review,” Las Vegas Review Journal, 07/26/17]

Secretary Zinke’s scheduler, Caroline Boulton, on July 19, 2017, sent an email to other Interior staff with a version of Secretary Zinke’s travel schedule that had “7/30 Charter flight to Las Vegas, NV from Santa Fe, Roundtable meetings around Moapa Valley & Mesquite, NV,” and “7/31 Monument Tour with SLM Red eye flight to DC.” [FOIA Response OS-17-00938, Page 119]

However, after learning that Secretary Zinke was “needed in Ohio for an event with POTUS on Tuesday the 25th,” Interior staff “spent the day trying to reconfigure our travel.” The July 25th Youngstown events that Secretary Zinke attended with President Trump were a “Salute to American Heros Event” and a “Make America Great Again Rally,” which was a campaign rally for President Trump. After learning about Secretary Zinke’s needing to attend the Ohio event, Caroline Boulton emailed Rudy Evenson, the Nevada Bureau of Land Management [BLM] official Zinke’s office was coordinating with, and said she was “so sorry… to shift the itinerary again” but asked “Do you think we could make a Sunday work for the tour?” [17-00938, Pages 110-111; Ryan Zinke July 2017 Calendar, Department of Interior, accessed 03/05/18; Dan Merica, “Trump makes ‘presidential’ pitch at Ohio rally,” CNN, 07/26/17]

On July 20, 2017, Rudy Evenson sent an email to various BLM staff as well as Caroline Boulton, informing them that the monument tour had been rescheduled to take place on Sunday, July 30, 2017 and the roundtable meetings had been rescheduled to take place on Monday, July 31, 2017. [17-00938, Page 50]

The Interior Secretary had originally planned to spend a few days in Las Vegas in late July,” “to tour the monuments and meet with stakeholders.” However, he “cut the visit to one day and canceled most meetings… so he could return to Washington, D.C., for a cabinet meeting with then-newly appointed White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.” [Heidi Keyser, “Voices of the Land,” KNPR, 08/28/17]

The change in schedule upset environmental groups, tribal leaders, and other “monument advocates,” especially because, even though Secretary Zinke cancelled the stakeholder meetings, on Sunday, July 30, 2017, he was able to find “time to fit in” a “private hike” at “Gold Butte with BLM officials and Republican politicians.” One of the “Republican politicians” who went on the hike with Secretary Zinke was Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who has since announced he is running for Governor of Nevada. Media were not allowed on this monument tour. [Heidi Keyser, “Monuments In Limbo As Zinke Cuts Visit Short,” KNPR, 08/01/17; Andrew Davey, “BROKEN PROMISES: NEVADANS CONDEMN RYAN ZINKE SHUTTING THEM OUT OF MONUMENTS REVIEW,” Nevada Forward [Blog], 08/01/17; Secretary Ryan Zinke Travel Manifest, Department of Interior, accessed 03/05/18; Jackie Valley, “National monument supporters blast Zinke for cutting short Nevada trip, call his visit a political stunt,” Nevada Independent, 07/31/17; Colton Lochhead, “Laxalt makes Nevada governor bid official,” Las Vegas-Review Journal, 11/01/17; FOIA Response OS-17-00938, Page 71]

Secretary Ryan Zinke did not meet with either the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians or the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe on his Nevada trip. Because of the change in Secretary Zinke’s schedule, Interior canceled an in-person meeting that he was supposed to have with the Moapa Band of Paiutes. Instead he called the tribe from Washington, DC, which, according to Tribal Chairman Darren Daboda, made the tribe feel like their “‘input was an afterthought.'” The Las Vegas Band of Paiutes also requested a meeting with Secretary Zinke on his monuments tour. However, Secretary Zinke’s staff only considered meeting with them as a backup if Secretary Zinke “already had to wait” for an extra day in Las Vegas.

Gold Butte National Monument is “sacred” to the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe as well as to the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians. [“Gold Butte National Monument,” Friends of Nevada Wilderness, accessed 03/05/18]

On Monday July 31, 2017, instead of the originally scheduled in person meeting with the Moapa Band of Paiutes, Secretary Zinke had a thirty minute conference call with the tribe. Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribal Chairman Darren Daboda said of the call, scheduled as a replacement to going in-person to the Moapa Band Reservation, “‘We felt like our input was an afterthought.'” [Heidi Keyser, “Voices of the Land,” KNPR, 08/28/17; Ryan Zinke July 2017 Calendar, Department of Interior, accessed 03/05/18]

As of June 27, 2017, “The Las Vegas Band of Paiutes [had] invited Zinke to visit Gold Butte” but had not heard back from the Interior Department. [Suzanne Potter, “Interior Secretary Announces July Visit to Nevada National Monuments,” Public News Service, 06/27/17]

Caroline Boulton, Secretary Zinke’s scheduler, appeared to consider having Secretary Zinke meet with the Las Vegas Band of Paiutes as a back-up plan, and only if Secretary Zinke “already had to wait” for an extra day in Las Vegas. She wrote in an email to Interior advance staffer Rusty Roddy, “Maybe if flight doesn’t work we do dinner Monday? Or maybe there’s another person we could meet for dinner in Las Vegas if we already have to wait. There’s also the Las Vegas Band of Paiutes that we’re currently not meeting with but could in the PM.” [17-00938, Page 30]

Seemingly frustrated, Roddy responded to Boulton, perhaps about Zinke’s not meeting with the Las Vegas Band of Paiutes. Roddy wrote, “Chances are strong that the Paiutes are attending Moapa tribal meeting. What is holding us up on making a call???” [17-00938, Page 31]

Ultimately, Secretary Zinke did not meet with the Las Vegas Band of Paiutes on his trip to Nevada. [Ryan Zinke July 2017 Calendar, Department of Interior, accessed 03/05/18]

Even though Secretary Ryan Zinke did not have time to meet in person with tribes, he did have time to go on a hike to the Falling Man petroglyphs, which was one of his “preferences” of activities to do on the trip. He also found time to have dinner at a Las Vegas steakhouse with Senator Dean Heller, who is a Gold Butte monument opponent.

On his July 30, 2017 hike it appears that Secretary Ryan Zinke specifically requested to go on a two hour long hike to the Falling Man petroglyphs. In a July 20, 2017 email Caroline Boulton, Secretary Zinke’s scheduler, wrote in an email to Rudy Evenson, the Nevada BLM official Zinke’s office was coordinating with, “We were just talking to Downey about the Secretary’s preferences for the trip, and we were wondering if we might be able to extend the trip for an extra hour to re-include the hike to Falling Man petroglyphs.” Evenson replied that “adding Falling Man back in” to the schedule “Basically… adds about 2 hours including the 30-minute lunch break.” [17-00938, Page 71]

Secretary Zinke also found time on the evening of Sunday, July 30 to go to Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar with Senator Dean Heller. Senator Heller’s staff chose this location because it had “a lot” of privacy. Senator Heller has been a vocal opponent of national monument designation for Gold Butte. [17-00938, Page 21; Secretary Ryan Zinke Travel Manifest, Department of Interior, accessed 03/05/18; Henry Brean, “Sen. Dean Heller urges Obama against last-minute monument designation for Gold Butte,” Las Vegas Review Journal, 11/18/16]

Before the stakeholder meetings were cancelled, Interior staff were trying to keep them under wraps. Interior Deputy Director of Congressional and Legislative Affairs Micah Chambers asked congressional staff who he invited to the stakeholder meetings to “keep a close hold” on the details of the meetings.

On July 26, 2017, Micah Chambers, when he invited Nevada’s congressional offices to “stakeholder meetings with the Secretary,” told congressional staff that none of the meetings were “publicly announced yet, so please keep a close hold.” The meetings were scheduled to take place just five days in the future, on July 31, 2017. [17-00938, Page 34]

When Ryan Zinke cut short “what was to have been a two-day visit to tour the Gold Butte and Basin and Range monuments” as part of his national monument review, stakeholders felt “chafed by the last-minute cancellation of promised meetings,” including local Paiute tribes and Rep. Dina Titus. Even Cliven Bundy’s wife complained that she felt “forgotten” and “not important” after she was unable to get a meeting with Secretary Zinke during the monument review.

When Ryan Zinke cut short “what was to have been a two-day visit to tour the Gold Butte and Basin and Range monuments, part of his” national monument review, stakeholders felt “chafed by the last-minute cancellation of promised meetings,” including local Paiute tribes and Rep. Dina Titus. [Keith Rogers, “Stakeholders Fume over Zinke’s Shortened Nevada Monuments Visit,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, 07/31/17]

After being unable to get a meeting with Zinke while he was reviewing Gold Butte monument, the wife of Cliven Bundy produced a video saying she felt “forgotten” and “not important” during the monument review. [“Carol Bundy Responds to Visit of Interior Secretary Zinke,” YouTube, 06/30/17, (00:30)]

A letter to the editor published in the Las Vegas Sun expressed “outrage” at the “travesty” of Zinke’s national monument review. In particular, the author was upset that Zinke had canceled a roundtable event about the Gold Butte and Basin and Range national monuments “without letting all the potential attendees know.” 

A letter to the editor published in the Las Vegas Sun in August 2017 expressed frustration with the national monument review process and Ryan Zinke in particular. Marcia Bollea wrote, “I am writing to add my voice to those raised in outrage at the travesty of a review/listening tour initiated by the Trump administration and Ryan Zinke, Trump’s secretary of the Interior. This whole exercise is a giant film-flam put on by the administration. Appointments were made and a roundtable was organized for July 31 in Mesquite so that the secretary could hear from different groups and citizens about the impact of the Gold Butte and Basin and Range national monuments on the state of Nevada. Zinke canceled on Saturday without letting all the potential attendees know; he then arrived in the area on Sunday without letting all the interested parties know. He then used his time for a photo op with some Republican candidates from the area along with Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, turning his presence into a totally partisan event. This is complete disrespect for the state of Nevada and for the local elected officials and all the groups and citizens who wanted to speak out to the secretary.” [Letter from Marcia Bollea to the Editor, Las Vegas Sun, 08/19/17]

A column in a Denver newspaper described Secretary Zinke’s monument review as a “casual and half-assed process” and his monument listening tour as a “road show.” 

In an August 2017 article, Westword newspaper columnist Alan Prendergast criticized Zinke’s national monument review. Prendergast observed, “The creation of a national monument is a serious business, involving years of study, lobbying, paperwork and speechifying. Undoing one is apparently a much more casual and half-assed process, judging by the way the Trump administration is going about it.” He continued, “Although the legality of actually de-listing a national monument has yet to be tested in court, Zinke’s road show has been heavily promoted as delivering on a pledge to correct the public-land ‘abuses’ of the Clinton and Obama eras — while instilling widespread anxiety among environmentalists, sport enthusiasts and recreationalists, and other monument defenders.” He concluded, “with just a week left until the date Zinke [was] supposed to conclude his review, he ha[d] only visited eight of the 27 targeted monuments. And he [wasn’t] likely to meet with stakeholders for the others before the announced deadline” as Zinke was “on a Mediterranean vacation with his wife, Lola.” [Alan Prendergast, “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Takes a Break From Monumental Task,” Westword, 08/18/17]

Secretary Zinke was heavily criticized for canceling meetings inviting local input on the monument review. A columnist for the New Mexico Taos News pointed out the hypocrisy of the Trump administration canceling “advisory meetings in New Mexico and across the country,”  while the administration undertook the national monument review.

Cody Hooks, writing for the New Mexico Taos News, in May 2017 observed, “While the Trump administration makes moves to scrutinize and potentially scale down or undo some national monuments, the top brass at the U.S. Department of the Interior has canceled upcoming advisory meetings in New Mexico and across the country that are some of the few institutionalized ways of gauging public opinions about public lands. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke signaled recently that the department, which includes the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service, would be reviewing the mission and function of more than 200 boards and committees.” [Cody Hooks, “BLM calls off public meetings amid Trump’s monument review,” Taos News, 05/21/17]

Before he became Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke favored reforming the Antiquities Act, which he thought had been abused.

Ryan Zinke, in 2016, said, “I think a monument, unfortunately, has to be changed – the rule, the law, because the intent was…to look at something precious in our country, and memorialize it for generations.  But it wasn’t intended to be a land grab, and the problem is we have a president who is intent on doing that.” [“US Congressional GOP Candidate Debate MT AT Large,” Americans for Prosperity via YouTube, 04/20/16 (1:26:39)]

In his confirmation hearing, Ryan Zinke said that when it comes to monument designation, “[i]f the state is upset about a monument, and they had a plan that’s different from what was – what was done, then I think we should defer a lot of that to the state.” He also said in his confirmation hearing that when it comes to creating a national monument under the Antiquities Act, “I view it as absolutely critical to have state and local support on a monument that they are – they participate in.”  

Zinke said, “I think, a monument, when it falls in a state, I think the state should have a say on it.  To me, I’ve always kind of considered monuments, as I drive across Montana, pretty big state, between here and Chicago plus two miles.  When you see a sign that says monument, generally, it’s a — I always envisioned as a battlefield, a location that deserves special recognition.  Larger monuments that are millions of acres that don’t have support of the community, you know, there’s no doubt the President has the authority to amend a monument.  It’s always in the papers. It will be interesting to see whether the President has the authority to nullify a monument.” [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Ryan Zinke Hearing, 01/17/17] 

Zinke said that, when it comes to monument designation, “[i]f the state is upset about a monument, and they had a plan that’s different from what was — what was done, then I think we should defer a lot of that to the state.” [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Ryan Zinke Hearing, 01/17/17]       

Zinke said that, when it comes to creating a national monument under the Antiquities Act “I view it as absolutely critical to have state and local support on a monument that they are — they participate in.  In the case of Salt Lake or Utah, I’m concerned about the schools and the funding mechanism to the schools are — that’s been largely taken away, as I understand. So that’s a concern. But if you — if you start at the local community level, the grassroots, and you build, and there’s participation, then we get ahead of the problem… part of the planning process is go out, get community support, make sure your governor and your elected leaders are behind you, and then petition — talk to the president who makes a decision, and everyone should be on the same page, or at least about on the same page.” [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Ryan Zinke Hearing, 01/17/17]     

Possible Abuses of Taxpayer Money

Secretary Zinke has been sprucing up his office on the taxpayer dime by installing $139,000 doors for his office.

The Interior Department is in the process of spending $138,670 “to upgrade three sets of double doors in the office of Secretary Ryan Zinke,” “including two doors that open onto a corner balcony with a spectacular view of the Washington Monument and the National Mall,” and a third that “opens to a hallway that features painted portraits of previous Interior secretaries.” Design work on the project was approved in February 2018 “and installation is expected this summer.” The “balcony doors were problematic early in Zinke’s tenure.” A March 2017 email from an Interior staffer suggested “replacing the locks” on the balcony doors to “ensure Zinke ‘doesn’t need a key from the inside and he doesn’t get locked out when he goes outside.'” [Michael Biesecker and Matthew Daly, “Interior spending $139K to fix doors in Sec. Zinke’s office,” Associated Press, 03/09/18; Chris D’Angelo, “Interior Department Spending $138,670 To Replace Doors In Zinke’s Office,” Huffington Post, 03/08/18]

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has taken security detail on overseas trips including on his personal two week vacation to Greece and Turkey.

In what was “a ‘questionable’ use of taxpayer resources,” Interior “Secretary Ryan Zinke and his wife took a security detail on their vacation to Greece and Turkey” in 2017, even though “Zinke was not conducting government business during his two-week vacation” and only “the State Department and the Secret Service…have specific authority allowing them to provide security to executive branch officials, according to a Government Accountability Office report.” The cost of his security detail and other security costs associated with the trip are still unknown, although Western Values Project has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to determine how many taxpayer dollars Secretary Zinke spent on security costs for his vacation. [Ben Lefebvre, “Zinke brought security team to vacation in Turkey and Greece, records show,” Politico, 03/21/18; Western Values Project FOIA to DOI re Zinke Vacation Security Cost, 04/02/18]

On their summer Mediterranean vacation, the same vacation on which they brought a security detail, Ryan and Lolita Zinke stayed in luxury hotels in the Greek Islands and took sea jets to hop from one island to another.

An itinerary of the Zinkes’ “Greece and Turkey travel” in August 2017 shows that Lola Zinke was in Florence, Italy from July 16 to August 2. Secretary Ryan Zinke and Lola Zinke met in Istanbul on August 5th. They stayed at the Four Seasons, Istanbul on the Bosporus until August 7th, when they flew to Athens and had a Courtesy visit with the U.S. Embassy in Athens. [17-00707, Pages 2134-2135]

They went from Athens to Mykonos, where they stayed in the Palladium Hotel until August 12th. The Palladium Hotel advertises itself as a “luxury five-star hotel in one of the most world famous islands.” [Home, Hotel Palladium, accessed 05/09/18; 17-00707, Pages 2134-2135]

On August 12th, the Zinkes took a “Sea Jet” to Paros, where they stayed at another luxury hotel, the Yria Boutique Hotel, until August 17th. On August 17th, the Zinkes took another “Sea Jet” to leave Paros. [Overview, Yria Hotel, accessed 05/09/18; 17-00707, Pages 2134-2135]

The Zinkes stayed at the Four Seasons in Istanbul again, from August 17 to August 19, where they had a courtesy visit with the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul. They flew back to the US on August 19. [17-00707, Pages 2134-2135]

The Zinkes took security detail on their trip. [Eli Watkins, “Interior docs show Zinke brought security detail on Mediterranean vacation,” CNN, 03/21/18]

Secretary Zinke rewarded two of his friends with government jobs at Interior, creating a new position for his former PAC treasurer and hiring his old high school football buddy to be a senior advisor in an area where he had no expertise. Secretary Zinke’s old high school football buddy gets to assess whether grants made by the Interior Department to outside groups align with the Trump administration’s priorities, even though he spent his career working for small credit unions.

Interior Secretary Zinke has rewarded his friends and political allies with Interior Department jobs. In May 2017, Secretary Zinke created an energy policy post for the former treasurer of his political action committee, Vincent DeVito. [Profile for Vincent DeVito, Department of Influence, accessed 04/06/18; Profile for Steve Howke, Department of Influence, accessed 04/06/18]

On December 28, 2017, Scott Cameron, the Interior Department’s principal deputy assistant secretary for policy, management and budget, issued a directive instructing “other assistant secretaries and bureau and office heads to submit most grants and cooperative agreements for approval by one of his aides. Those include any award of at least $50,000 ‘to a non-profit organization that can legally engage in advocacy’ or ‘to an institution of higher education.'” The directive aims to “ensure those awards ‘promote the priorities’ of the Trump administration.” [Juliet Eilperin, “Interior puts science grants through political review,” Washington Post, 01/09/17]

The directive states that “assistant secretaries and bureau directors, in conjunction with Mr. Steven Howke, Senior Adviser to the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget, must work with each discretionary program to set expectations and develop a plan for program execution.” [Memo from Scott J. Cameron to Assistant Secretaries et al, Interior Department accessed via Washington Post, 12/28/17]

“[T]he new approval process appears to be without precedent within the department.” [Juliet Eilperin, “Interior puts science grants through political review,” Washington Post, 01/09/17]

Steve Howke graduated Whitefish High School in 1980. While at Whitefish High School, Howke played football with Ryan Zinke. [“Bulldogs Should be Better,” The Daily Inter Lake, 09/08/77, and New Lights! Camera! Ackroyd! on Tuesday,” Whitefish Radio, 06/18/07]

In June 1985, Steve Howke started working as a teller at Whitefish Credit Union. “He worked his way up the ranks to Chief Financial Officer at WCU before being appointed to serve on the Treasure State Corporate Board of Directors. [“YP Break-out Session Speaker,” Millennium Corporate Credit Union, 05/17]

In 2001, Steve Howke was first elected to the board of Treasure State Corporate Credit Union. [“People,” Credit Union Journal, 06/18/01]

In 2007, Steve Howke moved from Whitefish to Helena to become CEO at Treasure State Corporate Credit Union. Treasure State was a corporate credit union based in Helena, Montana that served 56 members by 2011. In 2012, Treasure State merged with Kansas Corporate, a corporate credit union based in Wichita, which later became Millennium Corporate Credit Union. [“New Lights! Camera! Ackroyd! on Tuesday,” Whitefish Radio, 06/18/17, Robert McGarvery, “Scoring the Corporate Credit Unions: Who Is Left Standing?: Online Only,” Credit Union Times, 08/29/11; Peter Strokzniak, “Kansas and Missouri Corporates Merge,” Credit Union Times, 07/05/15; and “History,” Millennium Corporate Credit Union, accessed 01/09/18]

Steve Howke is on the board of the Asset/Liability Committee of Millennium Corporate Credit Union. [“Monthly Financial Report,” Kansas Corporate Credit Union, June 2016 and “Financial Report,” Millennium Corporate Credit Union, 12/17]

As of 2017, Steve Howke was a Business Development Rep/ Financial Analyst at Millennium Corporate Credit Union. [“Membership Report,” Millennium Corporate Credit Union, 10/17]

Steve Howke resigned from his position as a Business Development Rep/ Financial Analyst at Millennium Corporate Credit Union in October 2017 to accept a position at the Department of Interior. [“Membership Report,” Millennium Corporate Credit Union, 10/17]

Steve Howke is currently serving as a Senior Advisor to Acting Assistant Secretary of Policy, Management and Budget Scott Cameron at the Department of the Interior. Howke appears to have been in this position since at least November 6, 2017. [Organizational Chart, Department of Interior, 11/06/17]

Steve Howke donated $160 to Ryan Zinke in 2008 when Zinke ran for the Montana Senate. [Search for Steve Howke, Montana Campaign Finance Records, accessed 01/09/17]

Steve Howke donated $325 to Bob Brown in 2004 when Brown ran for Montana Governor. [Search for Steve Howke, Montana Campaign Finance Records, accessed 01/09/17]

In 2014, Steve Howke wrote a letter to the Daily Interlake supporting Ryan Zinke’s run for Congress. Howke said he had known Zinke since kindergarten and that Zinke had remained his “close friend through thick and thin.”

Howke described Zinke as “a class act” and said he was “‘an extremely bright and thoughtful person that I put the utmost trust in to represent the great state of Montana, and to get our country back on track.'” [Steve Howke, “LETTER: ZINKE’S SHOWN A LIFETIME OF CHARACTER,” Daily Interlake, 03/19/14]

According to a news story with the headline, “A perk for friends of the Zinkes: Guided tours through National Park Service sites,” numerous “VIP tours of National Park Service sites, some at the height of the tourist season, came at the request of either Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke or his wife, Lola, according to records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Several excursions were scheduled specifically for friends and acquaintances,” including tours of places “where the public is not allowed.”

According to a news story with the headline, “A perk for friends of the Zinkes: Guided tours through National Park Service sites,” numerous “VIP tours of National Park Service sites, some at the height of the tourist season, came at the request of either Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke or his wife, Lola, according to records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Several excursions were scheduled specifically for friends and acquaintances.”

These included “a personalized visit to Joshua Tree National Park. A spin through the West Wing, guided by White House staffers. And a trip to the top of the Lincoln Memorial, which is closed to the public.”

“The Zinkes have arranged for acquaintances and administration officials to get special tours of the Lincoln Memorial, including areas where the public is not allowed. At taxpayer expense, they took a yacht broker — who once sold Lola Zinke a boat — on a work trip to California’s Channel Islands National Park. An aide said the secretary described the man as one of three guests who were ‘subject matter experts’ and could offer ‘personal testimony’ about the area.”

“Jon Jorgenson, the yacht broker involved in Lola Zinke’s boat purchase, accompanied her and the secretary on an official tour of the Channel Islands in April 2017. Asked to clarify why Jorgenson should participate in the trip, Interior’s scheduling director told department lawyers that he could ‘offer personal testimony to help the Secretary understand issues facing the islands.'”

Don Hellmann, who headed the Park Service’s office for legislative and congressional affairs for eight of his 22 years with the agency, said in an interview that Zinke and his aides appear to be devoting a disproportionate amount of time to arranging VIP tours.” [Juliet Eilperin, “A perk for friends of the Zinkes: Guided tours through National Park Service sites,” The Washington Post, 05/18/18]

When a high-level employee in Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department attended a Western Governors’ Association meeting in Whitefish, Montana in June 2017, he stayed at a resort owned by William Foley, who is Secretary Ryan Zinke’s “billionaire friend and political benefactor.”

Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management Michael Nedd, in June 2017, attended a Western Governors’ Association meeting in Whitefish, Montana. While in Whitefish, he stayed for three nights “at the Whitefish Mountain Resort ― a sprawling ski and lodging facility just west of Glacier National Park owned by none other” than Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s “billionaire friend and political benefactor William Foley.”

“Whitefish Mountain Resort is solely owned by a company called Winter Sports Inc., according to business records filed with the Montana secretary of state’s office. Foley is listed as a director for Winter Sports, and SEC filings indicate that he first purchased an interest in the company in 2005.”

In the same month, Secretary Zinke gave a “‘motivational speech'” to the Las Vegas Golden Knights, the National Hockey League Team that Foley owns. Zinke used a charter plane to leave Las Vegas, a flight that cost “taxpayers a whopping $12,375” and that prompted the “Interior Department’s inspector general office to open an investigation into Zinke’s use of charter planes.” The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has also begun its “own investigation into whether Zinke’s Las Vegas speech with Foley violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits executive branch employees from engaging in political activity. Foley had been a major donor to Zinke’s political campaigns.” [Itai Vardi, “Top Interior Official Stayed At Montana Resort That Secretary Zinke’s Billionaire Friend And Donor Owns,” Huffington Post, 12/12/17]

Although Secretary Zinke’s office has denied having any connection with Whitefish Energy, the power company that got a contract to restore electricity in Puerto Rico, when he was a Congressman members of his staff met with Whitefish Energy about “using the C-FAC superfund site in Columbia Falls as a transformer manufacturing plant.” Zinke also “reached out” to the Columbia Falls City Manager about building a transformer manufacturing plant.

Whitefish Energy, a “Whitefish-based power company… secured a $300 million contract to restore electricity to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.” The contract has spurred “questions from government agencies and Congress about why the 2-year-old operation from Montana was selected over larger, more experienced providers.” The company has also “come under fire because of alleged ties to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, whose hometown is Whitefish.”

Heather Swift, Secretary Zinke’s spokesperson, has defended Secretary Zinke’s relationship with Whitefish Energy CEO Andy Techmanski. According to Swift, “‘The Zinkes and the Techmanskis know each other because they both live in a small town (population 6,000) where everyone knows everyone, and his son joined a friend who worked a summer job at one of their construction sites.'”

[Mackenzie Reiss, “Questions Arise About Whitefish Company’s Puerto Rico Contract,” Daily Inter Lake, 10/24/17]

However, when he was a Congressman, Zinke’s then-district director for the Flathead Valley, John Fuller, “represent[ed] Zinke’s office during negotiations with Whitefish Energy and one of its investors, Brazilian-based Comtrafo. Comtrafo and Flathead Energy’s Andy Techmanski were proposing using the C-FAC superfund site in Columbia Falls as a transformer manufacturing plant.”

[David Winter, “Zinke connection to Whitefish Energy,” KULR, 10/30/17]

Also as a Congressman, Ryan Zinke reached out to Columbia Falls City Manager Susan Nicosia “about the project” to build a “transformer manufacturing plant at the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. site,” that Whitefish Energy wanted to build. Zinke also wrote a letter to Governor Steve Bullock about the site.

[Seaborn Larson, “Energy Company Considering Flathead for New Plant,” Daily Inter Lake, 12/16/16, and Ryan Zinke to Steve Bullock, 03/04/15]

Ryan Zinke, in March 2017, met with Landon Ash, the CEO of a defense contractor called Xtreme Concepts. Ash was an early financial supporter of Zinke’s congressional campaign and hosted a campaign fundraiser for him in Alabama in 2014. Xtreme Concepts is a government contractor with business before Department of the Interior. In June 2017, the company sold ammunition to the National Park Service.

Ryan Zinke, in March 2017, had a 1-hour meeting with Landon Ash. Zinke’s official schedule gives no description of the meeting.

[“Secretarial Schedule,” Department of the Interior, March 2017]

Landon Ash is the CEO of the Alabama-based defense contractor Xtreme Concepts. In 2014, he hosted hosted a fundraiser for Zinke’s 2014 Congressional campaign in Birmingham, Alabama. When Zinke won his seat in Congress, Ash said, “‘several SEALs who now work for Xtreme served under Ryan Zinke, so we’re especially pleased to be able to call him ‘Congressman’ now.'”

[Cliff Sims, “Alabama played little-known role in electing SEAL Team Six Commander to Congress,” YellowHammer, 01/09/15]

In 2014, Landon Ash donated $2,600 to Ryan Zinke’s campaign in the primary and general elections.

[Search Results for “Ash, Landon,” CQ Political MoneyLine, accessed 12/22/17]

A federal government purchase order signed June 15, 2017 shows that Xtreme Concepts sold small arms ammunition to the National Park Service for $3,625.60. The ammunition is to be used for training in Acadia National Park.

A federal government purchase order signed February 16, 2016 shows that Xtreme Concepts sold utility vehicles to the National Park Service for $13,390.

[“National Park Service Purchase Oder for Xtreme Concepts,” National Procurement Data System, accessed 12/22/17]

Trips

Secretary Ryan Zinke, in the first six months of 2017, travelled to Montana on at least four occasions. On his first trip, his calendar described his four-day trip as “personal travel.” On his second trip, the only event on his calendar was a commencement speech at Montana State University.  On his third trip, he spent two days in Billings with Mike Pence, followed by two days with no events on his calendar. On his fourth trip, Secretary Zinke went to Whitefish for two days for the Western Governors’ Association meeting.

Ryan Zinke was on a work trip in California from April 13, 2017 to April 20, 2017. On Thursday, April 20, 2017, his calendar reads “All day Personal Travel: Montana.” No further details are given. On April 21, 2017, April 22, 2017, April 23, 2017, his calendar also says, “All day Personal Travel: Montana” with no further details. There is a flight on his calendar from Glacier National Park Airport [FCA] to the Baltimore-Washington International Airport [BWI]; the flight began on 07:55pm on Sunday, April 23, 2017 and ended at 5:00am on Monday, April 24, 2017. No further details on the flight are given. [“Ryan Zinke Calendar,” 04/17]

Ryan Zinke flew to Montana on May 5, 2017. His flight left Baltimore-Washington International Airport [BWI] at 05:27pm on Friday, May 5 and he landed in Great Falls Airport [GTF] at 12:11am on Saturday, May 6. No further details on his flight are given. On May 6, his schedule says “All day Havre, MT” and that day, from 12pm to 2pm, he gave the MSU-Northern Commencement Address. Zinke went on a work trip to Utah the next day, Sunday, May 7, 2017. [“Ryan Zinke Calendar,” 05/17]

After his trip in Utah and California, Ryan Zinke’s calendar read “All day Billings with VPOTUS” on both Friday May 12, 2017 and Saturday May 13, 2017, and in the event description his calendar said his time with the Vice President would last until Sunday, May 14, 2017. There was no information for Monday, May 15, 2017 listed on Zinke’s calendar. On Tuesday, May 16, 2017, he flew from Glacier National Park Airport [FCA] to Denver [DEN], and then from Denver to Dulles Airport [IAD], his first flight left FCA at 08:45am and arrived in Denver at 11:04am and his second flight arrived at Dulles at 03:04pm. No further details on his flights were given. [“Ryan Zinke Calendar,” 05/17]

On Tuesday, June 27, 2017, Zinke’s calendar said “All day Whitefish, MT for WGA.” The description said the event would last until Wednesday, June 28, 2017. There was no information on Zinke’s calendar on when he either flew into or flew out of Whitefish, but before the event he had been in Las Vegas on Monday, June 26, 2017, and was back in DC on Thursday, June 29, 2017. [“Ryan Zinke Calendar,” 06/17]

Although Secretary Zinke was originally scheduled to pay for his hotel personally for a night in Billings, Montana in May 2017, after a change in his schedule to include an “official” event, he was able to get Interior to spend taxpayer money on his hotel room. Secretary Zinke attended a campaign rally for Greg Gianforte before going to the hotel, and the next day he went to a Montana Republican rally before spending the rest of his weekend at his home in Whitefish.

On May 12, 2017, during his trip to Montana, Secretary Ryan Zinke waited at the Billings Logan International Airport to welcome Vice President Mike Pence. In addition to Secretary Zinke, Vice President Pence was met at the airport by David Jeremiah, his wife Donna Jeremiah, and Lance Lannings.

David Jeremiah is a senior pastor at Shadow Mountain Community Church, a megachurch in Southern California, and hosts “radio and television ministries… across the United States and internationally.” He also served on Donald Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board during Trump’s 2016 campaign. Lance Lanning runs Provision International, a Christian charity that does international work based in Billings. [17-00707, Page 2382; “Know Your Southern Baptists: David Jeremiah,” The Gospel Coalition, 11/15/13; Jack Jenkins, “Meet Donald Trump’s New Evangelical Advisory Board,” ThinkProgress, 06/22/16; What We Do, Provision International, accessed 05/09/18]

On Friday, May 12, 2017, at 10:53, Secretary Zinke’s scheduler, Caroline Boulton, emailed Secretary Zinke his schedule for the weekend. On this version of the schedule, Secretary Zinke was staying at the Hampton Inn Butte in Butte, Montana. This version of the schedule said “Note: paying for personally.” [17-00707, Page 1690]

Several hours later, at 13:12 [1:12pm] Caroline Boulton emailed Secretary Zinke again to tell him “Updated. DOI can pay for your hotel tonight in Billings since you did official events here today.” The hotel information was updated—instead of staying in Butte, Secretary Zinke was now staying at the DoubleTree in Billings, Montana. [17-00707, Page 1691]

It appears that the official events Secretary Zinke participated in that day were a “Horseback Tour of Westmoreland Coal Company Property Led by Tribal Leaders” and a “Listening Session With Tribal Leaders & Energy Producers.” Vice President Mike Pence was with Secretary Zinke at both these events.

Secretary Zinke and Vice President Pence ended the night with a rally for then-congressional candidate Greg Gianforte. [17-00707, Pages 2383 – 2386]

Secretary Zinke stayed at the DoubleTree hotel in Billings, Montana. [17-00707, Page 1691]

The following morning, Secretary Zinke went to a GOTV Event with the Montana GOP, and was able to spend his Saturday night and Sunday at his home in Whitefish. [17-00658ch, Pages 140-141]

Secretary Ryan Zinke went on a tour of Santa Cruz Island and Santa Rosa Island in April 2017. Nita Vail, and her friends and family, Tony Brown, Tim Vail, and Will Woolley, were Secretary Zinke’s guests on this trip. Nita Vail, Tim Vail, and Will Woolley are all descendants of the ranching family that used to own Santa Rosa Island, which is now part of Channel Islands National Park. Nita Vail and Tony Brown appear to be friends of the Zinkes. Nita Vail and Lolita Zinke are Facebook friends and Tony Brown is described in the manifest as Secretary Zinke’s “hunting buddy.” The two hosted a fundraiser for Ryan Zinke in 2014 when he was running for Congress and donated $250 to his congressional campaign that year. “At taxpayer expense,” the Zinkes took their yacht broker on this trip.

In April 2017, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited Channel Islands National Park in Southern California. Secretary Zinke visited Santa Cruz Island on April 17, 2017, and Santa Rosa Island on April 18, 2017. Various guests of the Office of the Interior Secretary participated in the trip and were listed in the boat manifests for the Ocean Ranger, the boat that was used to visit the islands. [17-00659ca, Pages 28-35]

Two of the Office of the Interior Secretary’s guests listed on the boat manifests for the Ocean Ranger on April 17, and April 18, 2017 were Nita Vail and Tony Brown. [17-00797cb [NPS attachments], Pages 2 and 3; “February 26th Fundraiser for Navy Seal Ryan Zinke in Carpinteria,” Ventura County Tea Party, accessed 01/03/18]

Nita Vail is Chief Executive Officer of the California Rangeland Trust, a non-profit organization founded by cattleman and cattlewomen “to conserve the open space, natural habitat and stewardship provided by California’s ranches,” and that has helped permanently protect hundreds of thousands of acres of privately-owned rangeland. Vail is from the ranching family that used to own Santa Rosa Island, which became part of the Channel Islands National Park in 1986. [Steve Chawkins, “Family reluctantly gives up its hold on Santa Rosa Island,” Los Angeles Times, 11/28/11; “About Us,” California Rangeland Trust, accessed 01/03/18; “Nita Vail,” California Rangeland Trust, accessed 01/03/18]

According to the boat manifest for the Ocean Ranger, two of the other guests aboard the Ocean Ranger on April 18, 2017 were Tim Vail and Will Woolley. Nita Vail, Tim Vail, and Will Woolley are all cousins, and are all descendants of the ranching family that used to own Santa Rosa Island. [17-00797cb [NPS attachments], Pages 3 and 4; Felicity Barringer, “A Multipronged Tussle Over the Fate of Herds Living in an Island Park,” New York Times, 10/09/06]

In the boat manifests, Tim Vail is described as a veterinarian, and Will Woolley is described as “Rancher, Nita and Tim’s cousin.” [17-00707cb (NPS Attachments), Page 15]

“Yacht broker” Jon Jorgeson was also listed as a guest on the April 17, 2017 and April 18, 2017 manifests. [17-00707cb (NPS Attachments), Page 14, 15]

“At taxpayer expense,” the Zinkes “took a yacht broker — who once sold Lola Zinke a boat — on a work trip to California’s Channel Islands National Park.”

“Jon Jorgenson, the yacht broker involved in Lola Zinke’s boat purchase, accompanied her and the secretary on an official tour of the Channel Islands in April 2017.” [Juliet Eilperin, “A perk for friends of the Zinkes: Guided tours through National Park Service sites,” The Washington Post, 05/18/18]

Nita Vail is Facebook friends with Lola Zinke. [List of Lola Zinke’s Friends, Facebook, accessed 08/04/17]

Tony Brown is described as “Orchard Manager/Hunting Buddy” in the Channel Islands National Park Boast Manifest for the Ocean Ranger. [“Channel Islands National Park Boat Manifests,” Page 1]

On February 26, 2014, Nita Vail and Tony Brown hosted a political fundraiser for Ryan Zinke when he was running for Congress. The fundraiser consisted of a 5pm meet and greet and 6pm BBQ Dinner and took place in Carpinteria, California. [“February 26th Fundraiser for Navy Seal Ryan Zinke in Carpinteria,” Ventura County Tea Party]

Nita Vail, in March 2014, donated $250 to Ryan Zinke’s congressional campaign. [Political MoneyLine Search for Nita Vail, CQ, accessed 01/03/18]

On April 4, 2017, Secretary Zinke’s scheduler, Caroline Boulton, emailed other Interior staff organizing the Channel Islands National Park trip. Boulton wrote that Secretary Zinke’s “ideal schedule [as confirmed with him yesterday],” included “4/17­4/18 Channel Islands: Santa Cruz & Santa Rosa Discuss ranching on the islands, tour.” [17-00797cb (NPS attachments), Page 180]

Another version of Secretary Zinke’s itinerary included “April 17 – 18 – Channel Islands National Park [Discuss ranching on the islands, tour].” On April 17, 2018, one of the items included for the Santa Rosa Island agenda was “Historic Ranch – Discuss adaptive reuse of historic ranch structures, includes discussion on the GMP Santa Rosa.” [17-00707cb [NPS attachments], Page 1]

After Secretary Zinke’s visit, Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau wrote to another NPS staffer about Secretary Zinke’s visit, saying: “Secretary Zinke shared some of his priorities with park staff including building public trust, restructuring the department workforce for efficiency, improved operations for frontline staff, and increasing investments in deferred maintenance. During his briefing with park staff on Santa Rosa Island he said that he would like to highlight the significant ranching heritage on the island through a working demonstration ranch. At this point it is not clear how this idea will be implemented.” [2017-04-19 Email from David Kushner to Russell Galipeau (Re Secretary Zinke’s visit)]

Nita Vail appears to have been one of the first Secretary’s guests selected for the Santa Barbara trip. She and Lola Zinke were confirmed before any of the Secretary’s other guests were selected. In an April 7, 2017 email to other NPS staff, Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau relayed a conversation he had had with Interior advance staffer Rusty Roddy about Secretary Zinke’s guests for the trip. Galipeau wrote in his email to other NPS staff, “Not sure of total guests but definitely Nita Vail and Mrs. ZINKE.” [17-00707cb [NPS attachments], Page 150]

According to Secretary Zinke’s official travel schedule, on the boat trip to Santa Rosa Island the morning of April 18, 2017, Secretary Zinke had a “Vail Family meeting” that “Nita, Tim and Will” participated in. The subject of the meeting is not listed on the travel schedule. [17-00659ca, Page 34]

According to Secretary Zinke’s official travel schedule, during the visit to Santa Rosa Island on April 18, 2017, Nita Vail led the tour of the “Walk to Historic Ranch,” while Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau discussed the ranch rehabilitation project. Galipeau had previously requested that Vail be the one to lead the tour. On April 13, 2017, Galipeau emailed the Interior staff coordinating the Zinkes’ trip and responsible for coordinating Secretary Zinke’s guests. Galipeau wrote that if Nita Vail was “coming it would be best to have Nita give the Ranch tour. She does an excellent job.” [17-00707cb [NPS attachments], Pages 2 and 3, and 53; 17-00659ca, Pages 28-35]

According to the “Vehicle Assignments for Secretary’s Visit” for the April 17, 2017 and April 18, 2017 trips, on both days Nita Vail was in the same vehicle as Ryan and Lola Zinke. On April 18, Tim Vail, Will Woolley, and Tony Brown were in the Secretary’s Vehicle as well. [17-00797cb [NPS attachments], Pages 245-246]

Three National Park Service staffers were “bumped” from the abovementioned Channel Islands National Park trip because Secretary Ryan Zinke wanted to include additional guests. One of the guests added by Secretary Zinke’s office instead of the NPS staffers was jelly maker Suze McClellan, who was also identified by Interior staff as having an “ethical dilemma” but appears to have gone on the trip anyway. Suze McClellan is identified as a “personnel friend” of Tony Brown’s.

On April 14, 2017, just days before the trip, Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau emailed National Park Service employees Laura Kim, Kenneth Convery, and Travis Poulson an email titled “you have been bumped.” Galipeau wrote, “Sorry, but the Secretary wanted to include some additional guests so unfortunately I have had to remove you from the Monday manifest.” [17-00707, Page 566]

After the National Park Service staffers were bumped from the manifest,  there was a “last minute addition” and on April 17, 2017 at 6:59pm. Interior staffer Wadi Yakhour asked that Santa Barbara jelly maker Suze McClellan be added to the manifest. [17-00707, Page 520]

Barely two hours later, at 8:41pm, Yakhour sent another email to NPS staffer Yvonne Menard about McClellan, writing, “I’m so sorry about the inconsistency but there was an ethical dilemma with Suze and now she needs to be taken off the manifest.”

It appears as if McClellan still went on the trip. On June 20, 2017, Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau sent Suze McClellan an invoice for the “round trip transportation on the Ocean Ranger from Santa Barbara Harbor to Santa Rosa Island.” [FOIA Response from the Department of the Interior, Pages 375, 382, 423, and 586; Jenn Kennedy, Santa Barbara Noozhawk, “The Working Life: Suze McClellan’s Ojai Jalapeño Jelly a Hot Commodity,” 07/29/11, Ojai Jelly, accessed 03/08/18, and National Parks Traveler, “Add Boat Tour In Channel Islands To Travel Of Secretary Zinke Under Scrutiny,” 10/04/17]

On the boat manifest, Suze McClellan is listed as a “personnel friend of Tony’s.” They are listed as 8.a. and 8.b on the manifest. [17-00707, Page 382]

On May 4, 2017, Interior staffer Russell Roddy emailed someone named Jon at the email address jjorgensen@chandlery.com. Roddy asked if Jon had “contact information for Tony Brown’s girlfriend who went on the boat to Santa Rosa. Since she was brought as a guest of a subject area expert, we will have to send her an invoice for her travel on the boat.” [17-00707, Page 2835]

According to the website for company Chandlery Yacht Sales, a Santa Barbara yacht company, jjorgensen@chandlerly.com is the email address for yacht salesman Jon Jorgensen. [“Our Amazing Crew,” Chandlery Yacht sales, accessed 04/28/18]

Secretary Ryan Zinke’s speech at a political event likely forced National Park Service staff to make operational changes for his visit to Channel Islands National Park and required nearly $2,000 in extra government expenses to facilitate.

In April of 2017, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke visited Channel Islands National Park in southern California. The original itinerary for the Channel Islands visit proposed the Secretary’s party depart from Ventura Harbor aboard the Ocean Ranger. [DOI Records Request OS-2017-00707, Page 31]

However, on April 7, 2017, Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau alerted his team that “[the Secretary] wants to be transported in and out of Santa Barbara. Feels NPS and concession not flexible enough. Coordinating with NOAA at WASO level to use the sanctuary vessel moored in Santa Barbara. I urge against it.” [DOI Records Request OS-2017-00707, Page 150]

This shift to departing from Santa Barbara was likely due to the fact that the Zinkes had planned to spend the weekend there and because on Monday, April 17, Ryan Zinke spoke at a “town hall forum” for the Young America Foundation, at the Reagan Ranch, a facility in Santa Barbara. [Ben Lefebvre, “‘UGH!’: Zinke’s wife’s travel caused headaches for Interior staff,’ Politico, 11/20/17]

In fact, on the same day Russell Galipeau alerted his staff to the shift to Santa Barbara, Ryan Zinke’s Special Assistant Caroline Boulton was making guest list arrangements on behalf of Mrs. Lola Zinke with the Reagan Ranch. [DOI Records Request OS-2017-00659, Page 96]

Ultimately, despite scheduling a trip to Ventura on Saturday, April 16 to meet with former Congressman Bob Lagomarsino, the Zinkes sailed from Santa Barbara Harbor on the Ocean Ranger on both Monday, April 17 and Tuesday April 18. [United States Department of the Interior Official Travel Schedule of the Secretary, Department of Justice, 03/917-03/12/17]

Because the boat departed from Santa Barbara instead of Ventura, on April 14, 2017, Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Russell Galipeau gave multiple updates on important changes.

First, the boat would now have to leave Ventura Harbor at 7:30am to arrive at Santa Barbara Harbor in time to depart at 9:30am to Santa Rosa Island. [DOI Records Request OS-2017-00707, Page 145]

Second, due to the extra time to get to and from Santa Barbara Harbor, the boat crew would need to be paid three hours of overtime each, adding $300 to the cost, and add fuel for an additional eight hours of running time at a price of $1,440 on top of the standard operating costs for the boat. [DOI Records Request OS-2017-00707, Page 113]

Secretary Ryan Zinke was over a month late paying for the Ocean Ranger transportation that he took on the Channel Islands trip, accruing $10 in interest.

Because Ryan Zinke’s Aunt, Beatrice Walder, and his wife, Lola Zinke, were also passengers on the boat, on April 25, 2017 a “Bill for Collection” was sent to Ryan Zinke for $142.08. [17-00707, Page 248]

After the Channel Islands trip, Secretary Ryan Zinke was late on paying for his “Ocean Ranger Transportation,” which originally cost $142.88. Jennifer Summerell, a fiscal technician at NPS, wrote on June 14 that “The bill is past due so interest fees and admin fees are accruing” and the new total was $152.22. The original bill had been sent on April 25, 2017. [17-00707, Page 458]

Lola Zinke was billed $47.36 for “the boat trip.” [17-00707, Page 460]

Two guests who toured with Secretary Ryan Zinke on a trip to Santa Cruz Island and Santa Rosa Island in April 2017 were fishermen Jeff Maasen and Jason Robinson. In an email, a Nature Conservancy scientist described Robinson as being one of “the most anti-Conservation fishermen I know” and as being “anti government in general.” A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] official said in an email, “Maasen can be a bit of a conspiracy believer and Robinson has the MPA poaching reputation, which is not good,” and warned that there may be “a perception problem” for Secretary Zinke “to be associating with those guys on board.”

Two other guests on the Channel Islands trip were Jeff Maasen and Jason Robinson. Maasen was described as a “local urchin fisherman.” According to Jono Wilson, Lead Fisheries Scientist at the Nature Conservancy, “Jason Robinson and his brother Shane… are possibly the most anti-Conservation fishermen I know.. they are strongly opposed to any NGO interventions and from what I’ve heard are anti government in general. They are opposed to science because they assume it is all towards increased regulation. They think TNC ruined the ground fish fishery through our involvement. They used to find my fish tags and throw them away and tell people about it. Frankly, I’m surprised he will be joining the trip.”  [LinkedIn Profile for Jono Wilson, accessed 05/04/18; 17-00707, Pages 416-417]

Eamon O’Byrne, Director of the California Islands Project for the Nature Conservancy, wrote of the guest list, “we have quite a crew of conservation opponents showing up.” [17-00707, Pages 416-417]

In an email on April 14, 2017, Sean Hastings of NOAA explained to NPS and NOAA staff, “Apparently there was an A list of fishermen recommended who are not available including those in leadership positions like Chris Voss and Jim Colomy whom we work with and would have recommended. So the two selected are primarily two that are available if there is still space for them. Maasen can be a bit of a conspiracy believer and Robinson has the MPA poaching reputation, which is not good, and may be more of a perception problem for the secretary to be associating with those guys on board.” [17-00707, Page 422]

Secretary Ryan Zinke travelled via helicopter to Camp David, Stoystown, Pennsylvania, and New York City in September 2017. Lolita Zinke accompanied him on the entire trip. Interior’s Office of Ethics had questions about details involving the helicopter ride as “Ms. Zinke most likely” needed to pay out of her own pocket for the helicopter trip.

It appears that initially the New York trip may have been planned in order to get media coverage. Interior Communications Director Lauren Rigas started planning the trip in June 2017, trying to figure out when Secretary Zinke could “tape his long-awaited piece with Brian” Kilmeade on Fox & Friends and “possibly other media.” Secretary Zinke did a total of four interviews. When he had his Fox & Friends interview with Brian Kilmeade he took anchors Brian Kilmeade and Nicole del Castillo on crown tours of the Statue of Liberty.

Laura Rigas, on June 8, 2017, emailed Heather Swift and Caroline Boulton, saying “Let’s start to think about a day when the Secretary can go to NYC. I anticipate that he would tape his long-awaited piece with Brian on F&F [possibly at the Statue of Liberty] and possibly other media [WSJ Ed Board?]. We could also have him tour several other DOI assets as well. I’m sure we could come up with some great options. Caroline — what day might he be available? Anything before the 4th of July?” [17-00707, Page 1571]

Heather Swift responded, “I recommend June 29/30 so that we can do a regular Fox and Friends hit and also the statue of liberty special for July 4th. He has also been asked to do the CBS Morning Show when he goes to NYC so we will need to do an overnight or two. WSJ editorial board definitely. On long island, he could go to TR historic sites, offshore wind, or fire island national seashore.” [17-00707, Page 1574]

When Secretary Zinke eventually did visit New York, in September 2017, he had an interview with Fox News on September 11, and on September 12 he had two radio interviews in the SiriusXM Studio. He went on the David Webb Show and the Wilkow Majority.  [17-00707, Pages 2845 – 2847]

Later on September 12th, he had his Fox and Friends interview with Brian Kilmeade, and took Fox and Friends anchors Brian Kilmeade and Nicole del Castillo on crown tours of the Statue of Liberty. Jack Daly, Partner at global private equity firm TPG capital, also attended the tour. [17-00707, Pages 1959, 2848]

Even though he took Fox and Friends reporters on a crown tour of the Statue of Liberty, Interior staff, including Rusty Roddy, Cherie Butler and Michael Amato, the National Park Service Chief of Interpretation, Education & Visitor Services and two of Secretary Zinke’s security detail were given a “general tour only” and were not taken on the crown tour. [17-00707, Page 2862]

Although he had time to have dinner with “Wall Street hitters” and was able to do four interviews, Secretary Ryan Zinke did not have “availability” to visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum because he had too much to “squeeze” in on his brief New York trip.

The same trip, Secretary Zinke’s scheduler told the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, “with the need to squeeze as much as possible from a two day trip into one day, there is not availability for him to stop and have the time he would need to tour the site and museum.” Boulton had previously been in touch with the Museum trying to find a time for Secretary Zinke to visit. [17-00707, Pages 2822-2823]

Lolita Zinke accompanied Secretary Ryan Zinke on an official trip to South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida in October 2017. Secretary Zinke went on the trip to tour “a lot of the hurricane damage at four national parks” and to visit “some FEMA sites.” Interior Press Secretary Heather Swift asked the White House for permission to use the trip as a press opportunity for Secretary Zinke. She wanted to get him on Fox News and “to have a camera crew go to the tour he does at a FEMA site.” During the trip, Secretary Ryan Zinke and his wife stayed at a luxury oceanfront hotel in Miami Beach. During his stay at this hotel Secretary Zinke attended an open bar reception put on by the Business Council, an association of CEOs, that was part of a larger Business Council conference. Energy executives, including the CEOs of BHP Billiton, ExxonMobil, Anadarko Petroleum, and the former CEO of U.S Steel attended the Business Council conference. Secretary Zinke also visited a personal friend in Jacksonville during this official trip.

Ryan Zinke travelled on an official Department of the Interior trip to South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida from October 2 to October 10, 2017. He was visiting “south florida” to tour “a lot of the hurricane damage at four national parks and also visiting some FEMA sites.” He also stopped “at Lake Okeechobee to get a briefing on Everglades restoration issues.” [17-00707, Page 2468, 7725; Eric Staats, “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke gets in-the-swamp view of Big Cypress, Everglades Park,” Naples News, 10/06/17]

Lola Zinke travelled with Secretary Ryan Zinke on this trip, accompanying him to South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. She went with Secretary Zinke to visit: Fort Sumter National Monument on October 3, 2017, to Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge on October 4, 2017, to Lake Okeechobee & Herbert Hoover Dike on October 5, 2017, Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge on October 5, 2017, Big Cypress National Preserve, including touring damaged Everglades National Park Sites on October 6, 2017, and Everglades National Park on Saturday, October 7, 2017. [17-00707, Pages 1804, 1836, 2498, 25472555]

The previous week, at the time Interior was planning the trip, Interior Press Secretary Heather Swift explained Lola Zinke’s presence on the trip, saying that Interior was “looking into” the possibility of Secretary Zinke “meet[ing] with displaced PR families.” Swift continued, “His wife Lola is a native spanish speaker so she will accompany as well.” [17-00707, Page 8445]

Secretary Zinke stayed at 1 Hotel South Beach in Miami Beach, Florida, from October 5, 2017 to October 10, 2017. His wife, Lola, joined him “for the duration of his stay.” A member of Secretary Zinke’s protection detail also stayed in the hotel [in a separate room] during Secretary Zinke’s stay. The rooms cost $199 per night each. According to Secretary Zinke’s schedule, expenses incurred that were “over the government rate” were “paid personally” by Secretary Zinke. [17-00707, Pages 1820, 2480-2489]

The average hotel room size of luxury oceanfront hotel 1 Hotel South Beach is a “spacious 700 square feet,” and room prices range from $458 per night to $2,154 per night. [1hotels.com/south-beach; James Reginato, “The New Miami Hotel That Oozes Eco-Friendly Cool,” Vanity Fair, 05/15]

On October 5, 2017, Secretary Ryan Zinke attended an open bar reception put on by the Business Council, an “association of the Chief Executive Officers of the world’s most important business enterprises.” The reception was part of a longer conference that the Business Council was putting on at 1 Hotel South Beach, the hotel where Secretary Zinke was staying. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also attended the Business Council reception. [17-00707, Page 1804-1806; Home, The Business Council, accessed 04/27/18]

Many energy executives attended the Business Council October 2017 event, including BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie, ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation CEO Al Walker, and former United States Steel Corporation CEO Mario Longhi. [17-00707, Pages 1806, 2521]

Heather Swift wanted to use the trip as an opportunity to get press. Swift, on September 28, 2017, emailed Alexa Henning in the White House asking if the administration was “OK with Zinke doing FBN [Fox Business Network] Mornings w/ Maria [Bartiromo] Thursday or Friday next week? We’d probably want to have a camera crew go to the tour he does at a FEMA site.” Henning responded, “I think it would be good to do press but I want to make sure we’re sensitive about this and coordinating with DHS/FEMA.” [17-00707, Page 7725]

It appears as though the interview ended up not happening. [Evlondo Cooper, “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has appeared on Fox News four times more than on the other major TV networks combined,” Media Matters, 04/19/18]

Secretary Ryan Zinke and Lola Zinke also stopped at the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida on October 5, 2017 during the trip. The visit was included at Secretary Zinke’s request. [17-00707, Pages 1849, 2549]

Secretary Zinke also stopped, and possibly stayed the night, at the home of a personal friend in Jacksonville. Secretary Zinke’s friend’s name is not listed: on the schedule, the stop is described as “Personal Friend’s Home, 3795 Ortega Boulevard, Jacksonville, FL 32210.” The next item on Secretary Zinke’s schedule immediately following the visit is “downtime at RON” [Residence Over Night]. Because there is no transport time included between the social visit and the “downtime at RON,” it is possible the Residence Over Night was at the friend’s house. [17-00707, Page 2476]

Ryan Zinke, from September 10 to September 13, 2017, travelled to Camp David, Stoystown Pennsylvania, and New York City. [17-00707, Page 2010, 2837-2850]

Spouse dress code suggestions were included on the schedule: for the day in Camp David, the spouse dress code suggestion was “casual elegance,” and special notes were made for the Pennsylvania events for the “spouse” that “Spouse: Business // Flat shoes may be needed due to terrain” and “Spouse: Business/ Flat shoes highly recommended for Wreath Laying Portion.” Lola Zinke’s name appears on the vehicle manifest for events Secretary Zinke participated in, including visiting Fort Wadsworth, visiting the Statue of Liberty, and visiting the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site, and in an email Caroline Boulton, Secretary Zinke’s scheduler confirmed that Lola Zinke was there “for the whole trip to New York.” [17-00707, Pages 2010, 2837-2850]

To get to Camp David, the Zinkes, along with other members of the Cabinet and their spouses, took a helicopter from Washington DC to Camp David. [17-00707, Page 2853]

Kimberly Benton, Detail to Interior’s Office of Ethics, wrote to Interior staffers Caroline Boulton and Timothy Nigborowicz about the trip. She asked “There were questions about the helicopter ride, who is paying, White House or Interior? Cost? food, etc?” [17-00707, Page 1340]

Benton later asked Boulton if she could “let us know more about the helicopter once you find out, since… Ms. Zinke most likely will need to pay.” [17-00707, Page 1342]

Once in New York, the Zinkes dined with a group of “Wall Street hitters,” including private equity fund directors, CEOs, and bankers, on the evening of September 11, 2017. Attendees included hedge fund manager Gary Kosinski, who owns two properties at the Yellowstone Club, and Ken Pontarelli, who is a “recently retired partner of Goldman Sachs” who “buys large energy companies.”

On Monday, September 11, 2017, Secretary Ryan Zinke and Lola Zinke had dinner with a group of private equity fund directors, CEOs, bankers, and others that Jack Daly of global private equity firm TPG capital described to Secretary Zinke as “Wall Street hitters.” In an email from Jack Daly to Secretary Ryan Zinke, Daly explained to Zinke the background on the various attendees at the dinner: “Henry & Vanessa Cornell [Henry runs Cornell Capital, a large private equity fund; former partner at  Goldman Sachs; you met him at the Yellowstone Club; Board of Directors of Navy SEAL Foundation], Jeromy & Stephanie Williams [Navy Captain and recent CO of Dev Group; currently fellow at Council of Foreign Relations], Steve Wisotzki & Jennifer [Steve runs Global Security for JPM; retired SEAL and Board of Navy SEAL Foundation; Jennifer is an entrepreneur … founded Beauty Bar], Gary and Penny Kosinski [Gary grew up with bobby smith and me in Pittsburgh; runs Kore Capital, a large hedge fund in Palm Beach; you met him at the Yellowstone Club … owns two properties there] Ken Pontarelli [Ken is a recently retired partner of Goldman Sachs; buys large energy companies], Tom Arenz [Naval Academy late 70s; graduated with Bob Harward; Managing partner of Harvest Capital, a large private equity fund], Brian O’Callahan [CEO of CPI, a top Wall Street headhunting firm].” [17-00707, Pages 1959, 2007]

Secretary Zinke had met with Jack Daly earlier in 2017: on April 19, while Secretary Zinke was on an official trip to California, he had lunch with Jack Daly at Spruce Restaurant in San Francisco. [17-00659, Page 39]

On September 12, 2017, the following evening on the New York trip, Secretary Zinke and Lola Zinke had drinks with UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and her husband Michael.  [17-00707, Pages 1936, 1950, 1956]

Chartered Flights

Since beginning his tenure as Interior Secretary, Secretary Zinke has used of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money on chartered flights. His office has claimed that the chartered flights were “booked only when feasible commercial flights were unavailable.”

In June 2017, Secretary Zinke “chartered a flight from Las Vegas to near his home in Montana… aboard a plane owned by oil-and-gas executives,” a flight that “cost taxpayers $12,375.”

A few months earlier, in March 2017, “Zinke and his official entourage also boarded private flights between the Caribbean islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix during a three-day trip to the Virgin Islands.” The trip included “an official snorkeling tour.”

Secretary Zinke’s spokesperson, Heather Swift, has said his “charter flights were authorized by ethics officials and booked only when feasible commercial flights were unavailable.” [Drew Harwell and Lisa Rein, “Zinke took $12,000 charter flight home in oil executive’s plane, documents show,” Washington Post, 09/28/17]

The Interior Department’s office of inspector general investigated Secretary Zinke’s use of chartered flights, and found that “the use of the charter plane was likely avoidable all together with better planning. [Miranda Green, “Watchdog: Zinke could have avoided charter flight after meeting with Las Vegas hockey team,” The Hill, 04/16/18]

Secretary Ryan “chartered” “a four-hour flight from Las Vegas to Kalispell, Mont., aboard a private plane” after he gave a speech to employees of William Foley, who is a political benefactor, that “cost taxpayers $12,375.” Secretary Zinke also took “private flights during a trip to the Virgin Islands” and “shared a military aircraft with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to attend a briefing at a wildfire camp in Montana.” Zinke defended his use of private plans in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation, “calling the controversy surrounding them ‘a little BS.'”  

Interior Secretary Ryan “Zinke has chartered three flights since March” 2017, including “”a four-hour flight from Las Vegas to Kalispell, Mont., aboard a private plane” that “cost taxpayers $12,375,” even though “commercial airlines run daily flights between the two airports and charge as little as $300.” The private plane was co-owned, “through a holding company,” by “Jay Nielson, the executive vice president of Nielson & Associates, an oil-and-gas exploration and production firm.”

Zinke took the charter flight “after giving a motivational speech to the Vegas Golden Knights, the city’s new National Hockey League team,” which “is owned by Bill Foley, chairman of Fidelity National Financial.” “Foley twice gave $2,600, the maximum contribution, to Zinke’s political campaigns when the Republican successfully ran for Montana’s congressional seat,” while “employees and political action committees associated with” Fidelity National Financial “donated a total of $199,523 to Zinke’s two congressional campaigns.”

Zinke also took “private flights during a trip to the Virgin Islands” and “shared a military aircraft with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to attend a briefing at a wildfire camp in Montana.” [Lucien Bruggeman, “Interior secretary chartered flights at taxpayer’s expense, including $12K trip,” ABC News, 09/29/17; Drew Harwell and Lisa Rein, “Zinke took $12,000 charter flight home in oil executive’s plane, documents show,” The Washington Post, 09/28/17; Zack Colman, “Zinke flight costs $12K after event with pro hockey team,” E&E News, 09/29/17]

Ryan Zinke defended his use of private plans in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation, “calling the controversy surrounding them ‘a little BS.'” He “prefaced his prepared remarks by saying: ‘I’d just like to address, in the words of General [H. Norman] Schwarzkopf, “a little BS” on travel.'” [Timothy Cama, “Zinke calls flight controversy ‘a little BS,'” The Hill, 9/29/17]

Video of Zinke calling the plane controversy “a little B.S.,” available on IQMedia:

[Eyewitness News 6PM, KABCDT (ABC), 09/29/2017]

Ryan Zinke co-sponsored bipartisan legislation “to prevent members of Congress from using official funds for first-class airfare.” The bill, introduced by Reps. Paul Gosar [R-Ariz.] and Raul Ruiz [D-Calif.] and “titled the Coach-Only Airfare for Capitol Hill [COACH] Act, would mandate that lawmakers and staffers can only fly first-class with personal funds. It would permit exceptions for first-class travel to accommodate disabilities or other medical needs.” [Cristina Marcos, “Bill would bar lawmakers from flying first class,”  The Hill, 5/4/15]

The abovementioned “four-hour flight from Las Vegas to Kalispell, Mont., [was] aboard a private plane” co-owned, “through a holding company,” by “Jay Nielson, the executive vice president of Nielson & Associates, an oil-and-gas exploration and production firm.” Secretary Zinke took the flight after he gave “a motivational speech to the Vegas Golden Knights.” Nielson & Associates, which “is primarily engaged in oil and gas exploration and production in the United States,” has held Bureau of Land Management oil and gas leases, and Nielson Capital Partners, LLC, which is registered to Jay Neilson, currently holds two Bureau of Land Management oil and gas leases in Wyoming.

Nielson “said he was not in control of the plane at the time and that it was chartered through a company called Choice Aviation.” He claimed that “he was unsure whether Zinke flew on the plane and added, ‘Part of why people charter planes is they like to remain somewhat private.'”

“The landing in Kalispell put Zinke a short drive from his home in Whitefish, Mont., where he spent the night, documents show. The flight cost taxpayers $12,375, according to an Interior Department spokeswoman. Commercial airlines run daily flights between the two airports and charge as little as $300.”

“Zinke took the private charter flight in late June after giving a motivational speech to the Vegas Golden Knights, the city’s new National Hockey League team. The team is owned by Bill Foley, chairman of Fidelity National Financial. Employees and political action committees associated with the financial services company donated a total of $199,523 to Zinke’s two congressional campaigns, Federal Election Commission records show.” [Drew Harwell and Lisa Rein, “Zinke took $12,000 charter flight home in oil executive’s plane, documents show,” The Washington Post, 09/28/17]

“Zinke ‘has never met or spoken to Mr. Nielson and that the charter plane company is a vendor of the federal government,’ an Interior spokesperson told CNN.” [Miranda Green, “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke calls news on his private jets ‘a little BS,’CNN, 09/29/17]

“Nielson & Associates was founded in 1992 by James Nielson. The company is primarily engaged in oil and gas exploration and production in the United States. Mr. Nielson is the former CEO of Husky Oil and has over 40 years’ experience producing heavy oil.” [“Synergy and Nielson to Build Heavy Oil Upgrading Plant,” Business Wire, 07/17/02]

Jay “Nielson’s grandfather, Glen Nielson, founded Husky Energy in the 1930s in Cody, Wyoming, when the company was called Husky Refining Company. The Nielson family sold their stake in Husky Energy, one of the largest oil and gas companies in Canada, in the late 1970s.” [Mark Hand, “Believe it or not, another Trump official has been caught charging taxpayers for private flights,ThinkProgress, 09/29/17]

Glenn Nielson got “the nickname Mr. Asphalt for his tireless efforts to expand use of the paving material in the United States and Canada” and, “in 1966, he gained broader recognition as chairman of the Business-Industry Political Action Committee, a business lobbying group set up in 1963 to counter the influence of the Committee on Political Education, then the political action arm of organized labor.” [Barnaby J. Feder, “Glenn E. Nielson, 95, Builder Of Oil and Asphalt Business,The New York Times, 11/05/98]

Nielson & Associates, Inc. is located at 1508 Stampede Ave., Cody, WY 82414.

The company’s listed staff members are:

  • James E. Nielson, President & CEO
  • Jay E. Nielson, Executive Vice President
  • Richard J. Stader, Chief Investment Officer [Nielson & Associates, accessed 10/02/17]
  • Nielson Energy Group, LLC, is the old name of what is now Nielson Capital Partners, LLC. The business is registered to Jay Nielson. [Wyoming Business Search, Wyoming Secretary of State, accessed 10/02/17]

Jim Nielson—Jay’s father—was born April 2, 1931 and graduated from the University of Wyoming “in 1954 with a degree in business administration.” “From 1973 to 1979, he served as president and CEO of Husky Oil Corporation, a fully integrated international oil company based in Calgary, Canada.” “From 1979 to 1992, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of JN Oil and Gas Company.” Nielson has served on the boards “of the American Petroleum Institute, the Shoshone First Bank, Y-Tex Corporation, and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.” “He served as a board member for the Wyoming Pipeline Authority for 28 years, serving under four governors and is a former director of the Denver branch of the Kansas City Federal Reserve. He has also served as president of the Rocky Mountain Oil and Gas Association in Denver and has been involved in many other boards in Wyoming, Colorado, and Houston.” [“Jim Nielson,” Cody Character [Blog], September 2008, accessed 10/02/17; “Jim Nielson: 2016 UW Distinguished Alumnus,” University of Wyoming, accessed 10/02/17; James E. Nielson Executive Profile, Blomberg, accessed 10/03/17; “Synergy Technologies Announces First Two Appointments to Newly Formed Advisory Committee,” PR Newswire, 01/13/00]

Jay Nielson, according to his [presumed] Facebook profile, is a “retired college administrator” who worked at Central Wyoming College from 1998 to 2012. He is the Vice President of Yellowstone Recreations Foundation, which operates the Sleeping Giant Ski Area & Zipline in Cody, WY. [Facebook Profile for Jay Nielson, accessed 10/02/17 and “Who We Are,” Yellowstone Recreations Foundation, accessed 10/02/17]

In 2011, Nielson & Associates was a “current BLM oil and gas lessee.” [Robert V. Abbey to Edward J. Markey, 06/03/11]

According to a 2001 court case: “6. Defendant Nielson is a small, privately held Wyoming corporation that produces and sells oil, hydrocarbon liquids and CO2 from the ‘McCallum’ fields in northern Colorado pursuant to leases with the U.S. government. 7. The McCallum leases were originally entered into between Conoco, Inc. and the U.S. government. […] 12. In 1994, Nielson purchased certain assets from Conoco, including the McCallum leases, and succeeded Conoco as seller under the Agreement.” [United States Ex Rel. Jack J. Grynberg v. Praxair, Inc. and Nielson and Associates, Inc., Case No. 98-CV-16, 03/28/01]

In 2006, “Nielson & Associates Inc., Nucor Oil & Gas Inc. and R&N Investments LLC” arranged “to sell its interests in the McCallum Field, North Park Basin, Jackson County, Colorado.” The companies had “in 59 oil wells on 9,607 gross acres.” [“On the Market,” A&D Watch, 04/01/06]

Nielson & Associates does not appear to hold any BLM oil and gas leases in Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Nebraska, or any of the eastern states. [LR 2000 Database, accessed 10/03/17]

Nielson Capital Partners, LLC, which is registered to Jay Neilson, currently holds two Bureau of Land Management oil and gas leases in Wyoming.

The first lease that Nielson Capital Partners LLC holds is approximately 597 acres and is managed by BLM’s Kemmerer Field Office.

The second lease that Nielson Capital Partners LLC holds is approximately 160 acres and is managed by BLM’s Kemmerer Field Office.

Nielson Capital Partners LLC does not appear to hold any BLM oil and gas leases in Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Nebraska, or any of the eastern states. [LR 2000 Database, accessed 10/03/17]

Nielson Capital Partners, LLC, is registered to Jay Nielson. [Wyoming Business Search, Wyoming Secretary of State, accessed 10/02/17]

Secretary Ryan Zinke was investigated by the Interior Inspector General for his use of chartered flights. The Interior Inspector General found that Secretary Zinke has failed to keep complete travel records.  

The Interior Department’s office of inspector general is currently investigating Secretary Zinke’s use of chartered planes. [Jacqueline Thomsen, “Interior watchdog investigating Zinke’s use of chartered jets,” The Hill, 10/02/17]

In June 2017, Secretary Zinke “chartered a flight from Las Vegas to near his home in Montana… aboard a plane owned by oil-and-gas executives,” a flight that “cost taxpayers $12,375.” A few months earlier, in March 2017, “Zinke and his official entourage also boarded private flights between the Caribbean islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix during a three-day trip to the Virgin Islands.” The trip included “an official snorkeling tour.” Secretary Zinke’s spokesperson, Heather Swift, has said his “charter flights were authorized by ethics officials and booked only when feasible commercial flights were unavailable.” [Drew Harwell and Lisa Rein, “Zinke took $12,000 charter flight home in oil executive’s plane, documents show,” Washington Post, 09/28/17]

The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General, in their investigation, found that Secretary Ryan Zinke had “‘absent or incomplete documentation for several pertinent trips.'” [Lisa Rein and Drew Harwell, “Watchdog says Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke failed to properly document travel,” Washington Post, 11/16/17]

The “$12,000 charter flight by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was reviewed and approved by department ethics officials without complete information, because staffers who helped schedule the trip did not provide sufficient details,” Interior’s inspector general said. “A report by Interior’s inspector general said Zinke’s use of a chartered flight after he spoke to a National Hockey League team in Las Vegas ‘might have been avoided’ if Interior employees had worked with the team to accommodate Zinke’s schedule.

Zinke and four Interior Department staffers flew on a private plane from Las Vegas to his home state of Montana in June 2017. Zinke has said no commercial flight was available for the late-night flight that allowed him to deliver a speech to Western governors the next day in Whitefish, Montana. Zinke, a former Montana congressman, was in Las Vegas to speak to the Vegas Golden Knights, the city’s new National Hockey League team. The team’s owner, Bill Foley, contributed to Zinke’s congressional campaigns. The IG’s report…said Zinke never mentioned the Interior Department or his role as secretary in the June 2017 speech to the fledgling hockey team, staff and coaches, instead focusing on his experience as a former Navy SEAL. An ethics official said the speech should have been tied to the department’s mission to qualify as an official event. The ethics official, Melinda Loftin, told investigators she did not know that the team’s owner had donated to Zinke’s congressional campaign until it was reported in a newspaper article after the speech.”

“Two other charter flights taken by Zinke, in Alaska and the U.S. Virgin Islands, ‘appeared to have been reasonable as related to official DOI business,’ the report said.” [Matthew Daly, “Watchdog: Zinke charter flight approved without full info,” Associated Press, 04/16/18]

Although Interior was ultimately unable to obtain charter flights for Secretary Ryan Zinke’s travel on the July 2017 monuments trip, it appears Interior staff initially tried to use charter planes so that Secretary Zinke could get back to Washington, DC, more quickly so that he could spend “3 full days in his office” before he departed on “Personal Travel.” Staff expressed concern that if Secretary Zinke were to fly commercial, he would “likely need to stay” in Nevada longer than desired. In an email to other Interior staff Caroline Boulton clarified that it was “DEFINITE” that Secretary Zinke would be in “DC” for those three days and that his personal “travel will not be pushed back…for anything.” Secretary Zinke and his wife spent at least part of his personal travel that August on a luxurious vacation in the Mediterranean.

Interior Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Downey Magallanes, on July 19, 2017, emailed Caroline Boulton and Russell Roddy, and CC’ed Leila Getto, Micah Chambers and Timothy Williams, saying, “After discussing with boss July 24 Boy Scouts POTUS event, potential D.C. mayor tour, please reach out July 25 Ohio POTUS event July 26, depart to arrive in El Paso that evening July 27-29 New Mexico July 30-31 Nevada Want to get him back so he has 3 full days in office August 1-3 before he departs August 4.” [17-00938, Page 124]

Caroline Boulton responded to Magallanes’ initial email, “After initial scouring of flights, we will likely to charter a plane to get him in and out of Nevada that quickly.” [17-00938, Page 124]

Caroline Boulton emailed to Interior staffer Tim Nigborowicz, “We should discuss to Las Vegas. If we fly commercial, we will likely need to stay through 8/1 out there.” [17-00938, Page 114]

Later in the day on July 19, 2017, Boulton sent an email to Interior staff titled “MORE Scheduling Changes.” That email included an agenda that had Secretary Zinke on a charter flight from Santa Fe to Las Vegas on July 30, 2017, and said “8/18/4 DC [DEFINITE; the travel will not be pushed back anymore for anything] 8/4 Depart on Personal Travel.” [ 17-00938, Page 119]

At least part of Secretary Zinke’s personal travel that he took in August 2017 included a Mediterranean vacation with his wife, Lola. [Aaron Weiss, “Secretary Zinke goes on Mediterranean vacation with only one week left to decide the fate of more than a dozen monuments he’s never visited,” Center for Western Priorities, 08/17/17]

Although “Interior staff attempted to charter two legs of Zinke’s trip, one leg from Las Cruces, New Mexico, to Santa Fe, and a second from Santa Fe to Las Vegas, as part of his tour of federal lands in the West,” “‘due to the active fires,'” Interior was “‘having trouble getting two pilots for the charter flights in Nevada and New Mexico.'” “Not able to find a pilot, Zinke both flew commercial and drove.” [17-00938, Page 114; Cristina Alesci, Sara Ganim, Rene Marsh, and Gregory Wallace, “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s NRA visit among several trips being questioned,” CNN, 02/27/18]

Additionally, the Interior Department tried “to use wildfire preparedness funds to pay for” Secretary Zinke to take “an unrelated helicopter tour of Nevada.”

In summer 2017, the Interior Department admitted it made a blunder after it tried “to use wildfire preparedness funds to pay for an unrelated helicopter tour of Nevada taken by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.” [Julia Manchester, “Zinke used private, military planes for travel: report,” The Hill, 09/28/17; Drew Harwell and Lisa Rein, “Zinke took $12,000 charter flight home in oil executive’s plane, documents show,” Washington Post, 09/28/17; Celeste Katz, “Interior Department Tapped Wildfire Preparedness Funds for Ryan Zinke Helicopter Tour,” Newsweek, 12/29/17]

In the wildfire preparedness funds situation, the Department of the Interior, in 2017, used “wildfire preparedness funds to pay for an unrelated” $39,295 “helicopter tour of Nevada taken by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke… even though the secretary did not visit any fire zones that day.” Celeste Katz, “Interior Department Tapped Wildfire Preparedness Funds for Ryan Zinke Helicopter Tour,” Newsweek, 12/29/17]

While a member of the House of Representatives, Ryan Zinke co-sponsored bipartisan legislation “to prevent members of Congress from using official funds for first-class airfare.” Secretary Ryan Zinke may have flown first-class on various flights in 2017.

Ryan Zinke co-sponsored bipartisan legislation “to prevent members of Congress from using official funds for first-class airfare.” The bill, introduced by Reps. Paul Gosar [R-Ariz.] and Raul Ruiz [D-Calif.] and “titled the Coach-Only Airfare for Capitol Hill [COACH] Act, would mandate that lawmakers and staffers can only fly first-class with personal funds. It would permit exceptions for first-class travel to accommodate disabilities or other medical needs.” [Cristina Marcos, “Bill would bar lawmakers from flying first class,”  The Hill, 5/4/15]

Under the Federal Travel Regulations, federal employees “must have a specific authorization or prior approval for… Use of other than coach-class service on common carrier transportation.” [Code of Federal Regulations, Part 301-2—General Rules]

GSA lists a few narrow exceptions that allow federal employees to take first class seats on flights; they are:

[F1] No coach-class accommodations are reasonably available. “Reasonably available” means available on an airline that is scheduled to leave within 24 hours of the traveler’s proposed departure time, or scheduled to arrive within 24 hours of the traveler’s proposed arrival time.

[F2] Use of first-class is necessary to accommodate a medical disability or other special need. See FTR 301—10.123 [a] [2] for additional criteria when using this exception.

[F3] Exceptional security circumstances require other than coach-class airline accommodations. Exceptional security circumstances are determined by your agency and should only be authorized up to the minimum other than coach-class accommodation necessary. These circumstances include but are not limited to:

  1. Use of coach-class accommodations would endanger life or government property;
  2. An agent on protective detail accompanying an individual authorized to use first-class accommodations; or
  3. A courier or control officer accompanying controlled pouches or packages.

[F4] Use of first-class is required because of agency mission, consistent with your agency’s internal procedures pursuant to FTR § 301—70.102[i]. [Air Travel, First Class Exception Codes, GSA, accessed 10/19/17]

Ryan Zinke may have sat in a first-class seat on his March 16, 2017 flight between Baltimore and Salt Lake City.

On March 16, 2017, Ryan Zinke traveled on Delta Flight 2560 from Baltimore-Washington International Airport [BWI] to Salt Lake International Airport [SLC]. He sat in seat 4B. [Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Trip Summaries, US Department of the Interior, accessed 10/19/17]

Since June 19, 2017 only two aircraft have been used for Delta Flight 2560 [BWI > SLC], a Boeing 737-800 and a Boeing 737-900ER. On both aircraft, seat 4B is a first-class seat. Data prior to June 19, 2017 was not immediately available. [Flight Activity History for DAL2560, FlightAware.com, accessed 10/19/17 and Seat Map – Boeing 737-800 and Seat Map – Boeing 737-900ER, Delta.com, accessed 10/19/17]

Ryan Zinke appears to have sat in a first-class seat on his May 12, 2017 flight between San Diego and Salt Lake City.

On May 12, 2017, Ryan Zinke traveled on Delta Flight 2872 from San Diego International Airport [SAN] to Salt Lake International Airport [SLC]. He sat in seat 2C. [Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Trip Summaries, US Department of the Interior, accessed 10/19/17]

Since June 19, 2017, a Boeing 737-900ER has been used for 117 out of 122 occasions for Delta Flight 2872 [SAN > SLC]; on this aircraft, seat 2C is a first-class seat. Data prior to June 19, 2017 was not immediately available. [Flight Activity for DAL2872, FlightAware.com, accessed 10/19/17 and Seat Map – Boeing 737-900ER, Delta.com, accessed 10/19/17]

Ryan Zinke appears to have sat in a first-class seat on his July 14, 2017 flight between Salt Lake City and Medford, OR.

On July 14, 2017, Ryan Zinke traveled on Delta Flight 4764 from Salt Lake International Airport [SLC] to Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport [MFR]. He sat in seat 4C. [Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Trip Summaries, US Department of the Interior, accessed 10/19/17]

On the July 14, 2017 run of Delta Flight 4764 [SLC > MFR]; Delta used a Bombardier CRJ-900 jet. On this aircraft seat 4C is a first-class seat. [Flight Details for Delta 4764 on July 14, 2017, FlightAware.com, accessed 10/19/17 and Seat Map – Bombardier CRJ-900, accessed 10/19/17]

In May 2017, Ryan and Lolita Zinke “used a military aircraft to travel to Norway.” From there they “flew on a military plane to Alaska for events organized by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.”

In May 2017, Ryan and Lola Zinke “used a military aircraft to travel to Norway” and from there “flew on a military plane to Alaska for events organized by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.” “Interior paid for Zinke and three Interior staff members to take the flight.” Lola Zinke “reimbursed the government for the cost of her seat, Interior has said.” However, according to Interior Department Spokeswoman Heather Swift, even though the “Zinkes paid for Lolita’s share of the trip, the full cost” of her portion of the trip “was not immediately available.” Interior said Lola Zinke “was one of many spouses invited on the trip to Alaska, Greenland and Norway, which was organized by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee” and that it was “‘standard for those trips’ to include spouses.” [Esther Whieldon and Ben Lefebvre, “Zinke’s travels: Ski resort and Alaskan steakhouse,” Politico, 10/10/17, Ben Lefebvre, “Interior Secretary Zinke traveled on charter, military planes,” Politico, 09/28/17, and Rene Marsh and Gregory Wallace, “Group sues Interior Dept. for Lola Zinke travel records,” CNN, 10/06/17]

The Interior Department has said that all of Ryan Zinke’s travel “‘was completely compliant with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations.'” According to Interior Spokeswoman Heather Swift, “‘The Interior Department under the Trump administration has always and will always work to ensure all officials follow appropriate rules and regulations when traveling, including seeking commercial options at all times appropriate and feasible, to ensure the efficient use of government resources.” [Willa Frej, “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Stuck Taxpayers For $12,000 Charter Flight,” Huffington Post, 09/29/17, and Rene Marsh and Gregory Wallace, “Group sues Interior Dept. for Lola Zinke travel records,” CNN, 10/06/17]

Ryan Zinke has said that “criticism over his travel [is] ‘complete and utter bullshit’ and that ‘all the trips went through absolute due diligence.'” [Anthony Smith, “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s travel discrepancies raise questions about wife’s role in department,” Mic, 10/08/17]

Ryan Zinke’s “use of taxpayer-funded charter planes” is being investigated by the Interior Department’s Office of the Inspector General. [Ben Lefebvre, “Interior watchdog opens investigation into Zinke’s travel,” Politico, 10/02/17]

On May 27, 2017, Secretary Zinke and one of his staffers took charter flights in Alaska from Deadhorse to Alpine to Fairbanks. The cost of the charter flights were initially quoted at $14,750.

In May 2017, Secretary Zinke participated in the Arctic CODEL, organized by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, to Norway and Greenland with stops in Alaska. On May 27, “The Committee organized and utilized a charter in northern Alaska.” The flight plan was  “Deadhorse, AK –> Alpine, AK –> Fairbanks.” According to Interior, they took the charter flight because “Commercial flights were not an option” and “the Secretary and the staff tickets were paid out of the DOI budget.” [17-00707, Page 6589]

In an email to Politico reporter Ben Lefebvre on September 28, 2017, Heather Swift said Interior was still “waiting on cost” of this trip. [17-00707, Page 7277]

On May 1, 2017, the Charter company Ravn Alaska initially quoted the cost of this charter flight as being $14,750.00. [17-00707, Page 2339]

According to the schedule, there appears to have been one security detail, and one other Interior staffer, Micah Chambers, on the charter flight with Secretary Zinke. [17-00707, Page 2159]

In the midst of the Norway/Alaska trip, Ryan and Lolita Zinke decided to change their plans and have Lolita continue traveling with her husband while he was in Alaska. Staff was not pleased with this development, remarking “UGH!” and noting that “everything was clicking… and all now shot to hell.” The staff also raised ethical concerns about the arrangement.

On May 27, 2017, DOI staff member Russell Roddy sent an e-mail to Caroline Boulton and others saying: “…Mrs. Zinke said she was now going to head to Byers Lake and Anchorage with RKZ and fly out of Anchorage on Tuesday. UGH! We have all kinds of planes, trains and automobiles manifests to now scramble with.” [Ryan Zinke Travel Records [Page 79], accessed 11/16/17]

Ten minutes later on May 27, 2017, Caroline Boulton responded to Mr. Roddy saying: “Lola is going to have to pay for her portion of any flight/helicopter/etc that she rides on. I know you know this, but can you just remind Micah to remind them?” [Ryan Zinke Travel Records [Page 79], accessed 11/16/17]

Seven minutes later on May 27, 2017, Boulton e-mailed again. The first portion of the e-mail is redacted based on the “deliberative process” exemption of the Freedom of Information Act. The unredacted portion reads: “Given the holiday weekend, I’d be very surprised if they were able to turn around an answer on that in time especially given the numerous issues at play.” [Ryan Zinke Travel Records [Page 80], accessed 11/16/17]

Minutes later, also on May 27, 2017, Roddy responded: “Trying to work on it without bringing any of that into play. We spent the whole day finalizing everything … and everything was clicking … and all now shot to hell.” [Ryan Zinke Travel Records [Page 80], accessed 11/16/17]

At 2:48am on Sunday May 28, 2017, Roddy once again responded to Boulton’s e-mail concerning the “holiday weekend” noting that, “I suggested Aaron and I would take her to dinner but RKZ wants her to attend the dinner with the Governor and said they would pay for it.” [Ryan Zinke Travel Records [Page 81], accessed 11/16/17]

Later that day on May 28, 2017, Caroline Boulton sent an e-mail to the Department of the Interior Inspector General’s Office, and others, saying: “Mrs. Zinke will now be staying in Alaska post- CODEL, a decision she and the Secretary made on the trip. The schedule has been adjusted to reflect that, including now driving from Denali as was originally the plan before the charter flight. My concern for now is primarily the Monday dinner with the governor’s office, as paid for by the governor’s office. The Secretary wants her to join and has said he will personally reimburse them for her meal. I know this is taking place tomorrow and we’re not giving you much time.” [Ryan Zinke Travel Records [Page 77], accessed 11/16/17]

On May 29, 2017, Lola Zinke was once again listed on the vehicle manifest for the trip from the Secretary’s hotel to a “Hike at Denali National Park & Preserve.” [Official Travel Schedules for the Secretary of the Interior [March – July 2017]; accessed 10/06/17]

The two extra days Lola Zinke would now be staying for included, among other things:

After Lolita Zinke decided to stay in Alaska “post-CODEL,” Secretary Ryan Zinke “scrapped” his plans to visit Denali National Park in favor of “a more leisure day.”

Lola Zinke decided to stay in Alaska “post-CODEL,” a “decision she and the Secretary made on the trip.” [17-00707, Page 1588]

Possibly as a result of Mrs. Zinke’s staying in Alaska, Secretary Zinke “scrapped” his plans to visit Denali National Park while was on his Alaska trip. The Denali plans were “scrapped for a more leisure day.” This involved canceling a one-on-one interview. [2017-07-007, Page 1604]

Leadership and Management Issues

Secretary Ryan Zinke has complained that one-third of his employees as “‘not loyal to the flag.'”

Secretary Zinke has also criticized Interior Department one-third of Interior Department staff as disloyal. He has said that “when he took over the 70,000-employee department in March that, ‘I got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag.'” [Matthew Daly, “Zinke: One-third of Interior employees not loyal to Trump,” Associated Press, 09/26/17]

The Department of Interior’s inspector general investigated the “politically suspect reassignment” of dozens of senior Interior employees. Additionally, the Interior Department has been riddled with various forms of discrimination during Secretary Ryan Zinke’s tenure, with one third of employees saying they’ve experienced discrimination. Secretary Zinke asserted that diversity “‘isn’t important.'”

Similarly, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has attacked his own department’s staff, saying that one third of the Interior Department was “‘not loyal to the flag,'” meaning that one third of employees weren’t loyal to himself and President Trump. [Matthew Daly, Zinke: One-third of Interior employees not loyal to Trump,” Associated Press, 09/26/17]

Secretary Zinke’s Interior Department has reassigned high-level Interior officials, and the Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General “examined the extraordinary and politically suspect reassignment of dozens of Senior Executive Service [SES] members.” The investigation came after Interior senior employee Joel Clement said “he was reassigned and ‘retaliated against for speaking out publicly about the dangers that climate change poses to Alaska Native communities.'” Additionally, nearly half of the reassigned employees were minorities, which has prompted Democratic lawmakers to call on the Government Accountability Office to investigate the reassignments. [Joe Davidson, “Interior’s ‘unusual’ transfer of senior executives spurs official probe,” Washington Post, 09/12/17; Allice Ollstein, “Dems Want Probe Into Whether Interior Department Discriminated,” Talking Points Memo, 03/28/18]

“The Interior Department reassigned 27 senior executives ‘without a written plan or clear criteria, and without consulting the departmental leadership,” according to a department inspector general report…and because there was ‘no documented action plan,’ the IG was ‘prevented from making a clear determination whether or not’ the department ‘met the legal requirements’ to make the changes, the report says.” [CNN, 04/11/18]

The Interior Department has also been riddled with various forms of discrimination during Secretary Zinke’s tenure. A workplace survey released in December 2017 found that “35 percent of employees said they were harassed in the last year, with 8 percent saying they were sexually harassed,” and “more than 200 employees… reported experiencing sexual assault.” Additionally, as Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke has repeatedly said that he thinks diversity at the agency “‘isn’t important.'” [Stephanie Ebbs, “4 senior managers at Interior Dept. fired for harassment,” ABC News, 12/14/17, Sarah Ganim, “Sources: Zinke tells employees diversity isn’t important,” CNN, 03/27/18]

The reassignment of workers by Secretary Ryan Zinke may have “violated federal anti-discrimination laws” by targeting “employees who ‘belong to a protected class.'”

“Senior Democrats are demanding that Congress’s investigative arm probe whether Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s mass reassignment of senior career civil servants… violated federal anti-discrimination laws” by “disproportionately affecting employees who ‘belong to a protected class.'” The demand came after lawyers “claimed that nearly half of those reassigned were minorities.” [Alice Ollstein, “Dems Want Probe Into Whether Interior Department Discriminated,” Talking Points Memo, 03/28/18]

Secretary Ryan Zinke asked Interior Department scientists to “provide his office with confidential data on the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska before it was released to the general public,” in violation of the U.S. Geological Survey’s scientific integrity policy. Additionally, at Secretary Zinke’s Interior Department employees have been editing scientific reports relating to climate change, even though Secretary Zinke, testifying before Congress, said that his staff never “‘changed a comma'” on a scientific document.

Secretary Ryan Zinke asked Interior Department scientists to “provide his office with confidential data on the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska before it was released to the general public,” even though Section 3c of the Geological Survey’s scientific integrity policy states pre-release should not happen in these cases because it “‘could result in unfair advantage or the perception of unfair advantage.'” [Juliet Eilperin, “Interior Secretary Zinke asked for confidential energy data. So two scientists left,” The Washington Post, 02/21/18]

“Murray W. Hitzman and Larry Meinert – who had served as the agency’s associate director for energy and minerals and acting deputy associate director for energy and minerals mission area, respectively – charge that the request violated the USGS’s scientific integrity policy because such commercially valuable data should not be shared in advance.” [Juliet Eilperin, “Interior Secretary Zinke asked for confidential energy data. So two scientists left”, The Washington Post, 02/21/18]

Secretary Zinke, in March 2018, testified before Congress, and, when asked if the Interior Department was editing scientific reports relating to climate change, said “‘There is no incident, no incident at all that I know that we ever changed a comma on a document itself.'” However, under Secretary Zinke, “National Park Service officials have deleted every mention of humans’ role in causing climate change in drafts of a long-awaited report on sea-level rise and storm surge” in a recently published report.” [Elizabeth Shogren, “Wipeout: Human role in climate change removed from science report,” Reveal News, 04/06/18]  

The Interior Department, under the leadership of Ryan Zinke, appears to be violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

All indications are that the 16 board members appointed by Secretary Ryan Zinke to “a new U.S. advisory board created to help rewrite federal rules for importing the heads and hides of African elephants, lions and rhinos is stacked with trophy hunters” are likely to “agree with his position that the best way to protect critically threatened or endangered species is by encouraging wealthy Americans to shoot some of them.” [“Trump wildlife board stuffed with trophy hunters,” Associated Press, 03/15/18]

“A coalition of more than 20 environmental and animal welfare groups objected that the one-sided makeup of the council could violate the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires government boards to be balanced in terms of points of view and not improperly influenced by special interests.” [“Trump wildlife board stuffed with trophy hunters,” USA Today, 03/15/18]

On July 3, 2017, Secretary Ryan Zinke attended a Beach Boys rehearsal, but the U.S. Park Police, who provide Secretary Zinke’s security, were not given enough advance warning by Secretary Zinke’s staff. As a result, one park police staffer had to work a 16-hour day to ensure Secretary Zinke had security. Secretary Zinke was able to get “backstage” at the dress rehearsal for the “Capitol Fourth” concert to meet members of the Beach Boys. He also may have given a tour of the Lincoln Memorial to members of the band.

Elaine Hackett, on June 29, 2017, asked Caroline Boulton if Secretary Zinke could give an underground tour of the Lincoln memorial to members of the Beach Boys. [17-00707, Page 1509]

On Monday, July 3, 2017, Hackett emailed Caroline Boulton, Laura Rigas, and Downey Magallanes to notify them the Beach Boys “were not getting into DC until late this morning” and as such “They may not be able to do the Lincoln today, but are open to Wednesday morning ….. they are going to get the Secretary backstage to meet them this evening at the Dress Rehearsal.” [17-00707, Page 335]

The Beach Boys headlined at the July 4th concert on the National Mall, also known as “A Capitol Fourth.” [“John Stamos, Beach Boys to headline July 4 concert in DC,” Associated Press, 06/06/17]

On July 4, 2017, a Lieutenant for the US Park Police [whose name has been redacted] emailed Rusty Roddy and CC’ed Leila Getto and Caroline Boulton. The Lieutenant was emailing to say there had been “an issue of coverage yesterday” because not enough advance warning had been given to let the Park Police know Secretary Zinke was attending the Beach Boys rehearsal on Monday evening. Because Secretary Zinke was “attending and expecting” the park police, a police staffer whose name has been redacted was forced to work extra hours, “from 630 am to 11pm” to ensure Secretary Zinke had adequate security during the concert rehearsal.

The Lieutenant writing the email to Roddy wrote that it “would be extremely helpful if we are in the loop for all event and attendance possibilities in which the SOI may utilize his security detail whether it be an official or personal event” so that the Park Police could “provide adequate security without unnecessarily burdening” themselves. [17-00707, Page 1438]

Veterans Peace Park

See the 2017 990 Form for the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park here.

Ryan Zinke, in 2007, established a nonprofit with the intention of building a park in his hometown of Whitefish that would become a community gathering place and event venue. Those plans never materialized. Today the park languishes as a “vacant industrial site” and is used as a “staging area” for highway crews. Neighbors complain that the park attracts “drinking and unruly behavior,” and nobody seems to know if Zinke has any plans to improve it.

The Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation [GNVPPF] was incorporated in Montana on August 15, 2007. Its registered agent is Ryan Purdy. When it was incorporated, Lolita Zinke was its president. [Certificate of Fact, Montana Secretary of State, 08/15/07]

Ryan Zinke had “the idea of obtaining an old gravel pit near the Whitefish Cemetery for a recreation area” in 2007 and “said his wife suggested creating a peace park.” BNSF officials signed the deed to the land on January 23, 2008. “The land was valued at $275,000.” [Candace Chase, “Land Donation gets Peace Park Rolling,” Daily Inter-Lake, 02/03/08]

Public input on the Veterans Peace Pack described it as a “vacant industrial site” and members of the public raised concerns about noise, traffic, and “the impacts of the peace park on the residential character of existing neighborhoods.” [“Whitefish Highway 93 West Corridor Plan,” City of Whitefish, 04/23/15]

In April 2016, parts of the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park were being used “as a staging area for the highway construction company.” [Meeting Minutes, Whitefish City Council, 04/18/16]

The group “Citizens for a Better Flathead” submitted a letter to the Whitefish City Council to complain about unresolved issues with the Veterans Peace Park. The letter notes that noise, hours, drinking and unruly behavior, traffic, and parking issues “all have not been addressed” at the Veterans Peace Park. [Letter to Whitefish City Council, Citizens for a Better Flathead, 05/04/15]

In April 2016, Councilor Hildner asked if Zinke and the city had further plans for developing the peace park as an event area. City Manager Stearns “was not sure of Ryan’s development plans,” and planning and building director Taylor said he “thought maybe one event a year.” Taylor mentioned that the area was being used “as a staging area for the highway construction company.” The council agreed that Zinke would have to “come to the Council” if he planned for the park “to be converted from an open space to another use.” City manager Stearns planned to Contact Zinke to ask about “his intentions of the property.” [Meeting Minutes, Whitefish City Council, 04/18/16]

When the city of Whitefish’s lease for a tract of land to the GNVPPF was up for renewal, Councilman Hildner said he searched online for the foundation and “could not find anything online and was wondering the status of the organization,” noting that it was “still a going concern.” Mayor Muhfield said that after speaking with Ryan Zinke, he was “comfortable with the agreement.” The council voted unanimously to renew the lease after Councilor Sweeney asked the city attorney to check to see if the foundation was “still authorized to do business.” [Meeting Minutes, Whitefish City Council, 06/20/16]

Ryan Zinke obtained “an old gravel pit near the Whitefish Cemetery” from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad [BNSF] to begin building the park in 2007. He convinced BNSF to donate 4.892 acres of land after pursuing “contacts on behalf of the park with former [Montana] Gov. Mark Racicot, a board member of BNSF” in Zinke’s “final months as a Navy commander.” Zinke established a nonprofit called the “Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation” for the purpose of building the park. The foundation received its final land donation in 2013, bringing the total acreage of the park to nearly 18 acres.

The Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation [GNVPPF] was incorporated in Montana on August 15, 2007. Its registered agent is Ryan Purdy. When it was incorporated, Lolita Zinke was its president. [Certificate of Fact, Montana Secretary of State, 08/15/07]

Ryan Zinke had “the idea of obtaining an old gravel pit near the Whitefish Cemetery for a recreation area” in 2007 and “said his wife suggested creating a peace park.” He convinced Burlington Northern Santa Fe [BNSF] railway to donate the 4.892 acres to his Veterans Peace Park Foundation after pursuing “contacts on behalf of the park with former [Montana] Gov. Mark Racicot, a board member of BNSF” in Zinke’s “final months as a Navy commander.” BNSF officials signed the deed to the land on January 23, 2008. “The land was valued at $275,000.” [Candace Chase, “Land Donation gets Peace Park Rolling,” Daily Inter-Lake, 02/03/08]

Zinke is president of the Veterans Peace Park Foundation. Its board includes Petty Officer 2nd Class Jennifer Detlefsen his stepdaughter, Tim Grattan, Dr. John S. Peterson, and Douglas Schuch. [Candace Chase, “Land Donation gets Peace Park Rolling,” Daily Inter-Lake, 02/03/08]

GNVPP received its final land donation in 2013 to make the total acreage of the park nearly 18 acres. [“Whitefish Highway 93 West Corridor Plan,” City of Whitefish, 04/23/15]

Lolita Zinke says the Veterans Peace Park is “an 18-acre children’s sledding park.” [“Outstanding Hispanic Republican Leader: Lolita Zinke,” Republican National Committee, 10/05/16]

Ryan Zinke had a parcel of land appraised at $275,000 before BNSF Railway agreed to donate it. However, Flathead County property records indicate the parcel is currently valued at $154,956. It appears that BNSF may have received a tax deduction in excess of the actual value of its donation to Zinke’s foundation.

Ryan Zinke “obtained the appraisal of $275,000 for the land and the survey” of the 4.892 acres before BNSF Railway agreed to donate the land. Following the instructions of Matt Rose, the CEO of BNSF, who called Zinke after he “pursued contacts on behalf of the park,” Zinke had the land appraised by F& H Surveying and Frazier Appraisal Service, which “donated the survey and appraisal needed to obtain the land.” [Candace Chase, “Land Donation gets Peace Park Rolling,” Daily Inter-Lake, 02/03/08]

Flathead County’s records indicate that the property which BNSF gifted to the GNVPPF in 2008 is currently valued at $154,956. [Property Record Card, Flathead County, accessed 10/27/17]

The Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation leases a section of cemetery land from the City of Whitefish at the rate of $1/year. The parcel is a steep hill used for snow sledding in Veterans Peace Park. Zinke sought a 10-year renewal in 2016, but the city granted him a 5-year lease, citing a lack of information about the park’s long-term plans.

In 2011, the city of Whitefish voted to lease sections of land to the GNVPPF for $1/year. The council granted Zinke’s request for a five-year lease to the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation for a corner of city-owned cemetery land. [Lynette Hintze, “Whitefish Cemetery Land OK’d for Park,” Daily Interlake, 07/20/11]

The GNVPPF leases a parcel of cemetery land from the city of Whitefish.  The Whitefish City Council approved a five-year lease to the foundation 2011 and renewed it in June 2016 at the cost of $1 per year. [Heidi Desch, “Veterans Peace Park Lease Renewed,” Whitefish Pilot, 06/28/16]

In 2016, Zinke sought a 10-year renewal of his initial 5-year lease. Zinke told the city of Whitefish that the lease “will allow him to assume noxious weed control and liability on the city property.” He said his focus for 2016 will be “topsoil and seed, restoring the pond habitat, and installing gates,” and that he envisions that the park will host “a number of activities and events” in the future. Instead, the council granted him a 5-year lease over concerns that they didn’t know anything about the park’s long-term plans. [Heidi Desch, “Veterans Peace Park Lease Renewed,” Whitefish Pilot, 6/28/16 and City Council Meeting Video, Whitefish City Council, 04/18/16 [01:57:55]]

The Great Northern Veterans Peace Park is in disrepair. Residents have described the park as a “vacant industrial site,” with parts of it being used “as a staging area” for a highway construction company. Residents are also concerned about its impact on the “residential character” of existing neighborhoods. Even Ryan Zinke, who owns land nearby, described the neighborhood as a “‘blight.'”

Public input on the Veterans Peace Pack described it as a “vacant industrial site” and members of the public raised concerns about noise, traffic, and “the impacts of the peace park on the residential character of existing neighborhoods.” [“Whitefish Highway 93 West Corridor Plan,” City of Whitefish, 04/23/15]

In April 2016, parts of the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park were being used “as a staging area for the highway construction company.” [Meeting Minutes, Whitefish City Council, 04/18/16]

Zinke proposed building the GNVPP because it would help West 2nd street become the “‘great neighborhood'” that it was when he grew up, and not the “‘blight'” that it currently is. [Matt Baldwin, “Push Made for US 93 West Crosswalk,” Whitefish Pilot, 06/13/12]

Whitefish residents have complained repeatedly about problems at the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park related to noise, drinking, unruly behavior, traffic, and other issues. One letter even said that the park should not be described as “‘public'” because of the lack of public input in its management.

The group “Citizens for a Better Flathead” submitted a letter to the Whitefish City Council to complain about unresolved issues with the Veterans Peace Park. The letter notes that noise, hours, drinking and unruly behavior, traffic, and parking issues “all have not been addressed” at the Veterans Peace Park. [Letter to Whitefish City Council, Citizens for a Better Flathead, 05/04/15]

Comments collected from a public input session said that the Veterans Peace Park should not be described as “‘public'” because “the public doesn’t have a say in the rules or management” of the park. [Appendix A: Public Input Session #1 Comments, Whitefish Highway 93 West Corridor Plan,” 04/20/15]

In a letter to the editor, MaiBritt Bennett, who can “see the entire park from my yard,” complained about several issues with the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park. Bennett was concerned about safety issues related to alcohol and a lack of fencing between the park and the railroad tracks, as well as music playing after 10:00. [MaiBritt Bennett, “A Few Thoughts about Concerts at Peace Park,” Whitefish Pilot, 07/18/12]

Ryan Zinke’s initial plans for the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park included “installing flags for all the armed forces” and “a historic plaque describing the contributions of veterans and the railroad to the community of Whitefish.” The Chamber of Commerce also envisioned building an amphitheater in the space, which Zinke claimed would include seating “‘designed so you can lay out a blanket and you won’t spill a glass of wine.'” However, none of this has actually happened. In 2016, Zinke said the only plans he had for the park were improving topsoil, “restoring” a pond, and installing a gate to keep out “vagrants.”

In 2008, Zinke planned for “installing flags for all the armed forces along with a historic plaque describing the contributions of veterans and the railroad to the community of Whitefish.” Zinke said the board would seek donations for the park, and that there would be “‘zero taxpayer dollars in this.'” [Candace Chase, “Land Donation gets Peace Park Rolling,” Daily Inter-Lake, 02/03/08]

The 2013 City of Whitefish parks master plan describes Veterans Peace Park as “undeveloped” and “in design phase.” The plan says the park may include a “potential future amphitheater.” [“Parks and Recreation Master Plan,” City of Whitefish, September 2013]

In 2012, the Whitefish Chamber had $20,000 set aside to go toward putting a band shell at the Peace Park “as early as this summer.” [Matt Baldwin, “Summer series sparks concern about overuse of Depot Park,” 04/18/12]

Ryan Zinke said the music venue at the Peace Park would include “picnic-style seating” with a slope “‘designed so you can lay out a blanket and you won’t spill a glass of wine.'” [Matt Baldwin, “Material from road work helps shape Peace Park,” Whitefish Pilot, 12/03/13]

In 2016, Ryan Zinke told Whitefish City Manager Chuck Stearns that the only planned improvements for the park that year were topsoil, seed, restoring the pond habitat, and installing gates to keep out “vagrants.” [Ryan Zinke email to Chuck Stearns, 04/19/16]

An opponent to putting an amphitheater at the Veterans Peace Park said it was a bad location because train whistles would interfere with music, neighbors would be adversely impacted, and it was far away from facilities.

Toby Scott, a Whitefish-based music recording engineer, opposed putting an amphitheater at the Veterans Peace Park. Scott said the location is bad because the train whistles would be loud, there are no nearby public facilities or parking, and housing would be affected by performances. Scott also noted that the park is “next to the only railroad crossing in Whitefish that is without a guard gate.” [Toby Scott, “Proposed Concert Arena in Wrong Location,” Whitefish Pilot, 07/11/12]

In 2016, when Ryan Zinke sought to renew a lease on land from the Whitefish City Council, councilors were unsure about Zinke’s development plans for the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park. One councilor had to search the Internet for information about the park and “could not find anything online” about the status of the organization. Though Zinke requested a 10-year renewal, the Council granted him a 5-year lease, citing a lack of information about the park’s long-term plans.

In April 2016, Councilor Hildner asked if Zinke and the city had further plans for developing the peace park as an event area. City Manager Stearns “was not sure of Ryan’s development plans,” and planning and building director Taylor said he “thought maybe one event a year.” Taylor mentioned that the area was being used “as a staging area for the highway construction company.” The council agreed that Zinke would have to “come to the Council” if he planned for the park “to be converted from an open space to another use.” City manager Stearns planned to Contact Zinke to ask about “his intentions of the property.” [Meeting Minutes, Whitefish City Council, 04/18/16]

When the city of Whitefish’s lease for a tract of land to the GNVPPF was up for renewal, Councilman Hildner said he searched online for the foundation and “could not find anything online and was wondering the status of the organization,” noting that it was “still a going concern.” Mayor Muhfield said that after speaking with Ryan Zinke, he was “comfortable with the agreement.” The council voted unanimously to renew the lease after Councilor Sweeney asked the city attorney to check to see if the foundation was “still authorized to do business.” [Meeting Minutes, Whitefish City Council, 06/20/16]

In 2016, one councilor asked if Ryan Zinke’s plans to improve the park have “just kind of gone away.” The city manager was unable to answer because Zinke “didn’t really tell…[him] much of his development plans” and would not appear before the council because of his travel schedule. Another councilor said, “I’m not sure [where] he’s at with his development plan. I’m sure he’s got something in his mind at the end of the day, but I’m not seeing it.”

Councilman Richard Hildner says he wants to see “more of an idea of what the plans are for his development so that we can act appropriately.” [City Council Meeting Video, Whitefish City Council, 06/20/16 [02:07:30]]

Whitefish Mayor John Muffled says he’s “not so sure” what the “master plan” is for the park. [City Council Meeting Video, Whitefish City Council, 06/20/16 [02:09:10]]

Councilman Richard Hildner asks if there has been any more discussion to develop the park as “an event area, or has that just kind of gone away?” The City Manager says he doesn’t think plans have gone away, but Zinke “didn’t really tell me much of his development plans.” Zinke said he could not attend any city council meetings because he “‘pretty much flies back to Washington, DC every Monday.'” [City Council Meeting Video, Whitefish City Council, 06/20/16 [02:03:19]]

Councilman David Taylor says, “last time I talked to him, he talked about maybe trying to do one event there a summer, or something like that. And that was a couple years ago… He ended up using it for a staging area for highway construction for the last few years in exchange for them doing some site work there. He wanted to do a small pond, and it blew up into a huge pond, so he’s trying to deal with that—drain it down. I’m not sure he’s at with his development plan. I’m sure he’s got something in his mind at the end of the day, but I’m not seeing it.” [City Council Meeting Video, Whitefish City Council, 06/20/16 [02:04:10]]

When Ryan Zinke became Secretary of the Interior, he signed an agreement “to resign from the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation” and claimed he had completed his agreed resignations on March 6, 2017. However, records show that he may not have followed through. An April 2017 filing with the Montana Secretary of States indicates that Zinke was still a director with the Great Northern Veteran Peace Park Foundation, though nonprofits are not required to report a resignation from a nonprofit until the next year’s annual report.

When Ryan Zinke became Secretary of the Interior, he signed an agreement “to resign from the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation.” [Tom Lutey, “Zinke is the Least Well-Off Member of Trump’s Cabinet, Reports Show,” Billings Gazette, 01/13/17]

Ryan Zinke, on a June 2017 OGE form, claimed that he had “completed all of the resignations indicated in my ethics agreement on March 6, 2017.” [Ryan Zinke’s Certification of Ethics Agreement Compliance, US OGE, May 2017]

A 990 stamped “received” on March 17, 2017 indicates that Ryan Zinke is still the president of the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation. [“Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation,” IRS Form 990, 2016]

An April 2017 filing with the Montana Secretary of States indicates that Zinke was still a director with the Great Northern Veteran Peace Park Foundation. [GNVPPF Annual Report for 2017, Montana Secretary of State, 04/14/17]

Based on a phone call with the Montana Secretary of State’s office, nonprofits are not required to report a resignation from a nonprofit until the next year’s annual report.

Ryan Zinke used his position as a state legislator to support the Great Veterans Peace Park Foundation while he was also on its board. Zinke “helped pass a bill through” the Montana Legislature clarifying that cemetery grounds could be leased for other purposes before securing cemetery land for the Veterans Peace Park. Zinke also offered to advocate for a crosswalk that would improve access to the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park.

“When it was discovered that city law precluded using any portion of cemetery land for a purpose other than as a cemetery, Zinke, a Republican state senator from Whitefish, helped pass a bill through the Legislature clarifying that a portion of cemetery grounds unsuitable for use as a cemetery may be used for other public purposes.” [Lynette Hintze, “Whitefish Cemetery Land OK’d for Park,” Daily Interlake, 07/20/11]

In an email regarding the GNVPPF’s lease of part of the city’s cemetery to Whitefish City Manager Chuck Stearns, Ryan Zinke said, “as u know, it took a change in law to technically use cemetery land for other purposes even though it is of no value and just contains a road and slope. The longer lease the better.” [Ryan Zinke email to Chuck Stearns, 04/07/16]

Ryan Zinke, in 2012, asked the city of Whitefish to support a pedestrian crosswalk near his property on 2nd street that would provide access to the Veterans Peace Park. “In return, Zinke will provide a key property easement for a future bike path and stand as an advocate for the crosswalk at the state legislative level.” [Matt Baldwin, “Push Made for US 93 West Crosswalk,” Whitefish Pilot, 06/13/12]

One resident called an Independence Day celebration at the Veterans Peace Park “a fiasco” and suggested that its board members provided “distractions” involving small fireworks displays, and that “several accidents occurred and people were harmed.”

Whitefish resident Mitch Linne said the 2016 Independence Day Celebration at the Veterans Peace Park was a “disaster” due to distractions provided by members of the Peace Park board. Linne says the event was overcrowded, noisy, and dangerous, and that “several accidents occurred and people were harmed.” [Mitch Linne, “Letter: A Formerly Quiet Spot to Enjoy Fireworks,” Daily Inter-Lake, 07/08/16]

Whitefish City Manager Chuck Stearns said a fourth of July event “overwhelmed” the park, and said he didn’t think Zinke was planning on doing other events “of that large a scale” in the future. [City Council Meeting Video, Whitefish City Council, 04/18/16 [02:03:19]]

In 2009, Ryan Zinke met with three state legislative candidates to discuss endorsing them and told them he “needed some signage” for his park. Zinke endorsed the candidates, who all pledged to contribute to the park foundation through their campaigns. Zinke and the candidates claimed the “arrangement was not a quid pro quo,” because “Zinke’s endorsement was an honor and very important.” Although Zinke suggested the contributions would fund signage for the park, that signage does not appear to exist.  

Ryan Zinke, in 2009, met with Chris Hyatt, Bill Kahle, and Phil Mitchell, candidates for Montana legislature, to discuss endorsing them. Zinke brought the candidates to his Peace Park, and “while enjoying views of the lake,” Zinke told them he “needed some signage for the park.” All three candidates pledged to give contributions to the park foundation though their campaigns, ranging from $100 to $170, and Zinke endorsed them. Both Zinke and the candidates said the “arrangement was not a quid pro quo,” because “Zinke’s endorsement was an honor and very important.” [Richard Hannes, “More than $38K on City Election,” Whitefish Pilot, 12/3/09]

Ryan Zinke planned to establish a small skating pond in the park, but it “blew up into a huge pond,” which he is still “trying to deal with.”

Whitefish City Councilman David Taylor says, “last time I talked to him, he talked about maybe trying to do one event there a summer, or something like that. And that was a couple years ago… He ended up using it for a staging area for highway construction for the last few years in exchange for them doing some site work there. He wanted to do a small pond, and it blew up into a huge pond, so he’s trying to deal with that—drain it down. I’m not sure he’s at with his development plan. I’m sure he’s got something in his mind at the end of the day, but I’m not seeing it.” [City Council Meeting Video, Whitefish City Council, 06/20/16 [02:04:10]]

Whitefish City Councilman David Taylor says Zinke wanted to turn the pond into “a little skating pond,” but it “got bigger than he thought it was going to get.” [City Council Meeting Video, Whitefish City Council, 06/20/16 02:10:05]]

Ryan Zinke had the founding documents for the Great Veterans Peace Park Foundation notarized in Santa Barbara, California.  

Ryan Zinke’s 2007 Articles of Incorporation for the Great Veterans Peace Park Foundation were notarized in Santa Barbara, California. [Articles of Incorporation, Montana Secretary of State, accessed 10/26/17]

At one point the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation had over half a million dollars in total assets, including real estate, equipment, and cash. The park foundation has received donations from Ryan and Lolita Zinke, the Whitefish Community Foundation, and BNSF.

At the end of 2016, GNVPPF reported having $531,885 in total assets, including $510,557 in land, buildings, and equipment and $21,328 in cash. [Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation, IRS form 990, 2013]

The 2013 990 lists a $10,000 contribution from Ryan and Lolita Zinke, a donation of land from BNSF appraised at $130,000, as well as $10,000 in cash. [Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation, IRS form 990, 2013]

The Whitefish Community Foundation, in 2011, awarded the Veterans Peace Park Foundation a grant to pay for a “foundation gate,” new signs, and a perimeter fence. [“300,000 in grants awarded,” Whitefish Pilot, 09/09/11]

The Whitefish Community Foundation awarded the Veterans Peace Park Foundation a grant in 2008. [“Food Bank Director gets the Fish Award,” Whitefish Pilot, 11/13/08]

The Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation owns two parcels of land with a combined value of $231,105.

The Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation owns two parcels of land with a total appraised value of $293,105. It transferred another parcel of land to Judith A. Schooley in 2016.

Source: Flathead County

GNVPPF owns the parcel with the tract ID 3122X35-XXX-4B, which is 4.010 acres. It was worth $123,905 in 2015 and is worth $138,149 in 2017. [Property Search for Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation, Flathead County, accessed 10/23/17]

GNVPPF owns parcel with the tract ID  3122X35-XXX-4DAB, which is 7.44 acres. It was worth $159,920 in 2015 and is worth $154,956 in 2017.  [Property Search for Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation, Flathead County, accessed 10/23/17]

The Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation has spent $6,000 on travel expenses, $2,000 on computer equipment, and purchased a tractor for $30,000. In 2010, the nonprofit reported a negative cash balance.

The 2013 990 lists the following expenses: $6,000 in travel expenses, $2000 for computer equipment, and a tractor purchased for $30,000. [Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation, IRS form 990, 2013]

In 2010 the foundation had a “negative cash balance of $1,940 due to survey and other expenses.” [Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation, IRS 990, 2010]

The Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation’s net assets were $560,294 at the end of 2016, yet the foundation only spends a few thousand dollars annually.

Year [FY Ending] Net Assets at the End of the Year Total Revenue Total Expenses
2016 N/A $5,000 N/A
2015 $560,294 $36,000 $19,560
2014 $543,854 $30,000 $6,375
2013 $529,660 $140,000* $10,000
2012 $399,660 30,000 $30,000
2011** N/A N/A N/A
2010 $369,060 $197,000 $4,200
2009 $176,260 $520 $360

Source: ProPublica

*This number is scratched off in pen on the 990. It may be $140,000 or $150,000.

**This 990 is not on the database.

All board members of the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation, as of 2016, were related to Ryan Zinke except Brian “Tim” Grattan. Tim Grattan is a Whitefish land developer who “bought and developed Grouse and Lion mountains, and built…the Whitefish Golf Course.”

All board members of the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation, as of 2016, are related to Ryan Zinke except one: Tim Grattan. [“Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation,” IRS Form 990, 2016]

Brian “Tim” Grattan, born May 16, 1938, is a Whitefish land developer who “bought and developed Grouse and Lion mountains, and built the south half the Whitefish Golf Course.” He is a Vietnam War veteran and breast cancer survivor. [“Interview with Brian T. Grattan,” Veterans History Project; Ryan Murray, “‘NOBODY IS BULLETPROOF’ — WHITEFISH DEVELOPER SURVIVES MALE BREAST CANCER,” Daily Inter Lake, 10/14/14]

Tim Grattan “was responsible for the development of Grouse Mountain and Grouse Mountain Estates in the city, and of the Lion Mountain subdivision just outside the city. He also has served many years on the board of directors of Winter Sports Inc., working to make the Big Mountain ski area among the best in the country.” [Jerry Hanson, “A History Lesson On Tim Grattan [Letter to the Editor],” Whitefish Pilot, 10/01/09]

He formed the political group Sensible Land Use [SLU] in 2007 “to battle the final draft” of a Whitefish “ordinance that would regulate development near bodies of water and on steep slopes.” The group “sent out flyers to nearly every residence in Whitefish characterizing the ordinance as a ‘heavy-handed property grab.'” Grattan describes himself as “‘a fly in the ointment.'” He said, “‘to the city, I’m just a greedy land developer. I am, and have been, kind of a lightning rod, and somewhat polarizing.'”

Tim Grattan formed the political group Sensible Land Use [SLU] in July 2007 “to battle the final draft” of a Whitefish “ordinance that would regulate development near bodies of water and on steep slopes.” The ordinance would affect “millions of dollars of prime real estate” in Whitefish. In September 2007, “SLU sent out flyers to nearly every residence in Whitefish characterizing the ordinance as a ‘heavy-handed property grab.'” Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices, Dennis “Unsworth concluded that the activities of SLU were legal, even though it had not registered as a political action committee, because while SLU appears to be campaigning against the current city council members and the mayor, it’s not supporting any specific candidates.” Grattan claimed, “‘I have not been involved in any part of campaigning, endorsing […] I’ve not taken a position on the politics of it at all. I’m just focused on what I think is a lousy ordinance.'” [Michael Jamison, “Town mulls regulations on lobbying,” Missoulian, 09/23/07; Paul Peters, “Faceless issues,” Missoula Independent, 10/11/07]

Tim Grattan describes himself as “‘a fly in the ointment.'” He said, “‘to the city, I’m just a greedy land developer. I am, and have been, kind of a lightning rod, and somewhat polarizing.'” [Michael Jamison, “Town mulls regulations on lobbying,” Missoulian, 09/23/07]

Zinke was an ally to BNSF when he was in Congress. BNSF, which is “a large player in transporting coal from the Powder River Basin,” has given Ryan Zinke a total of $19,160 in political contributions, and it has given $5,000 to SEAL PAC. BNSF was a supporter of, and would have benefited from, the Gateway Pacific Terminal [GPT], which was a proposed export facility in Washington that “was supposed to be the largest coal exporting facility on the West Coast.” Had the GPT been built, BNSF would have served the GPT. BNSF lobbied the federal government on “the benefits” of the GPT, and Ryan Zinke was “a vocal proponent” of it. Zinke called the project “‘a must-build project'” and said he would “‘not stand idly by as the Gateway Pacific Terminal becomes the next Keystone XL Pipeline.'” Ryan Zinke called the environmental plan for the terminal “flawless,” and in Congress he co-sponsored “a controversial amendment” that would “guarantee the completion of [the] National Environmental Policy Act review” for the GPT. Ryan Zinke called the GPT “‘a must-build project,'” but the permit for the project was denied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [USACE], which said that “the project would infringe on” tribal fishing rights. Zinke said that the USACE “‘caved into the interest of the Lummis Tribe.'”

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad [BNSF] is “a large player in transporting coal from the Powder River Basin.” [“Zinke donors include oil and gas firms using public land,” E&E, 01/13/17]

BNSF gave Ryan Zinke $160 in 2008 when he ran for Montana State Senate, and BNSF has given to Ryan Zinke’s congressional campaigns. They gave Zinke $5000 in 2014, $9000 in 2015, and $5000 in 2016. [Search for Donations from BNSF to Ryan Zinke, National Institute of Money in State Politics, accessed 02/07/18]

In 2016, BNSF donated $5000 to the Supporting Electing American Leaders [SEAL] PAC, which was originally created by Ryan Zinke. [BNSF Railway Company RailPac Records, Federal Election Commission, accessed 02/07/18; Molly Redden, “GOP Congressional Candidate Using Campaign Money Scheme Pioneered by…Stephen Colbert,” Mother Jones, 11/01/16]

The Gateway Pacific Terminal [GPT] was a proposed $665 million export facility that would have been located just North of Bellingham, Washington, and “was supposed to be the largest coal exporting facility on the West Coast, allowing the export of coal mined in the Power River Basin in Montana and Wyoming.” [Bob Watters and Don Brunell, “GATEWAY PACIFIC TERMINAL Pro: Project’s economic benefits, potential export growth outweigh congestion concerns,” Spokesman Review, 11/23/14; Aseem Prakash, Maggie Allen, and Nives Dolsak, “The big fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline, explained,” Washington Post, 09/20/16]

BNSF supported the Gateway Pacific Terminal, and in 2012 published advice on their website to tell the public “Facts about the Gateway Pacific Terminal and how you can help this important project.” Had the Gateway Pacific Terminal been built, BNSF would have served GPT. [“Facts about the Gateway Pacific Terminal and how you can help this important project,” BNSF accessed via google cache, 10/31/12]

SSA Marine, the developer of the Pacific Gateway Terminal, called BNSF “a good partner” on the Gateway Pacific Terminal project. BNSF played “an important supporting role” in the Gateway Pacific Terminal. BNSF Railway would have built “the spur line that will service the terminal.” BNSF would have transported “the coal 1,000 miles from Wyoming to Cherry Point. A fully-operating terminal would generate 18 coal trans a day—nine full, nine empty and each a mile and a half long. Those 18 trains [would have been] a big jump from the current number [about four a day] serving Canadian coal terminals.” [Floyd McKay, “Coal Train: The people and process behind Bellingham’s coal port decision,” Crosscut, 01/22/13; Bob Watters and Don Brunell, “GATEWAY PACIFIC TERMINAL Pro: Project’s economic benefits, potential export growth outweigh congestion concerns,” Spokesman Review, 11/23/14]

BNSF also “joined forces” with SSA Marine, the developer of the Pacific Gateway Terminal, and the coal industry in 2012 to form an “‘astroturf'” group that rolled out an “advertising and public relations effort that” spent $866,000 in Oregon and Washington on TV spots “lauding the benefits of building coal export terminals.” [“EXCLUSIVE: Coal Export Lobby Spends Big on Ads Promoting Shipping Taxpayer-Owned Coal Abroad,” ThinkProgress, 10/31/12; Floyd McKay, “Coal Train: The people and process behind Bellingham’s coal port decision,” Crosscut, 01/22/13]

In 2015, when Ryan Zinke was a Member of Congress, BNSF lobbied the federal government on “Gateway Pacific Terminal Project, job and trade benefits of the project.” In 2016, BNSF continued to lobby the federal government on “Gateway Pacific Terminal Project, job and trade benefits of the project, and USACE permit denial [no specific bill].” [Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway 2015 Second Quarter Report, United States Senate Disclosure Database, accessed 02/07/18; Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway 2016 Second Quarter Report, United States Senate Disclosure Database, accessed 02/07/18]

Ryan Zinke was “a vocal proponent of the ill-fated Gateway Pacific Terminal project in Whatcom County,” WA. [Peter Wagner, “Zinke, a proponent of GPT terminal, tapped for interior secretary,” KGMI News accessed via archive.org, 12/15/16]

In April 2015, shortly after he was elected to Congress, Ryan Zinke wrote to Washington Governor Jay Inslee asking Inslee to approve the project, saying it would “create thousands of jobs” in Washington state. [“Montana congressman urges Inslee to support GPT project,” KGMI News accessed via archive.org, 04/07/15]

Zinke said “‘the Gateway Pacific Terminal is a must-build project. I will not stand idly by as the Gateway Pacific Terminal becomes the next Keystone XL Pipeline.'”  [Press Release, Senator Steve Daines, 07/29/15]

The permit for the project was denied by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers [USACE], which said that “the project would infringe on the Lummi Nation’s rights to particular kinds of fishing in the waters off Cherry Point.” [Peter Wagner, “Zinke, a proponent of GPT terminal, tapped for interior secretary,” KGMI News accessed via archive.org, 12/15/16]

In August 2015 Ryan Zinke “shrugged off the concerns of environmentalists” when he visited the Gateway Pacific Terminal.  After touring the terminal he said the environmental plan for it was “flawless.” [Ralph Schwartz, “Montana officials praise Cherry Point coal port plan,” Bellingham Herald, 08/19/15]

In December 2015 Zinke co-sponsored “a controversial amendment” that would “guarantee the completion of [the] National Environmental Policy Act review” for the Gateway Pacific Terminal.  The amendment was “controversial” because the Lummi Nation said that the Gateway Pacific Terminal project “would violate treaty-protected fishing rights and, therefore, the Army Corps of Engineers [had] no business reviewing permit applications.”  Lummi Indian Business Council Chairman Tim Ballew II said that the terminal “would destroy the tribe’s ancestral lands and damage waterways for ancient fishing traditions” and that Zinke’s amendment “‘seem[ed] to be more of a stealth approach to advance the project, to stall the corps’ decision and undermine [Lummi Nation’s] treaty right requests.'”  [Environment and Energy Daily, 12/02/15, and Grace Toohey, “Northwest tribes fear corporate interests trump treaty rights,” McClatchy, 12/3//15]

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [USACE], eventually denied the permit for the project, because “the project would infringe on” tribal fishing rights. In May 2016, the permit for the project was denied by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers [USACE], which said that “the project would infringe on the Lummi Nation’s rights to particular kinds of fishing in the waters off Cherry Point.” [Peter Wagner, “Zinke, a proponent of GPT terminal, tapped for interior secretary,” KGMI News accessed via archive.org, 12/15/16; “Gateway Pacific Terminal Project denied,” KGMI News accessed via archive.org, 05/11/16]

Ryan Zinke was “a vocal proponent of the ill-fated Gateway Pacific Terminal project in Whatcom County,” WA. The permit for the project was denied by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers [USACE], which said that “the project would infringe on the Lummi Nation’s rights to particular kinds of fishing in the waters off Cherry Point.”  [Peter Wagner, “Zinke, a proponent of GPT terminal, tapped for interior secretaryKGMI News via Archive.org, accessed 7/17/18]

He said “‘the Gateway Pacific Terminal is a must-build project. I will not stand idly by as the Gateway Pacific Terminal becomes the next Keystone XL Pipeline.'”  [Press Release, Sen. Steve Daines, 07/29/15 ]

The Gateway Pacific Terminal “was supposed to be the largest coal exporting facility on the West Coast, allowing the export of coal mined in the Power River Basin in Montana and Wyoming.”  [Nives Dolšak, Aseem Prakash and Maggie Allen, “The big fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline, explained,” 09/20/16]

Zinke said the USACE “‘certainly caved into the interest of the Lummis Tribe.'”  [Tom Lutey, “Montana congressmen rush to keep coal port review on track,” Billings Gazette,  07/29/15]

White Supremacist Connections, Birtherism, and Other Racially-Charged Views

Ryan Zinke has taken campaign contributions from the founder of “a white supremacist group cited by…Dylann Roof” and from Richard Spencer, director of the National Policy Institute, which “bills itself as a think-tank dedicated to the ‘heritage, identity, and future of European people.'”

In 2014, “Earl Holt, the leader of the Council of Conservative Citizens, made a $500 donation to Zinke’s election campaign.”  The Council of Conservative Citizens is described as “a white supremacist group cited by Charleston” convicted church murderer Dylann Roof.  A manifesto “purportedly written by Roof says he learned about ‘brutal black on white murders’ from the Council of Conservative Citizens website.”  Zinke’s spokesperson said he would donate the money “to a fund set up for the families of the victims of the Charleston shooting.”

Zinke also received a $500 donation “from Richard Spencer, director of the National Policy Institute now based in Whitefish that bills itself as a think-tank dedicated to the ‘heritage, identity, and future of European people.'” Zinke’s spokesperson said he would also donate this $500. [Zinke to donate funds from white supremacist,” Associated Press, 06/22/15]

Ryan Zinke endorsed Taylor Rose, a Montana state legislative candidate who was “deeply active in white nationalism.” Rose was affiliated with Youth for Western Civilization [YWC], “a now-defunct college organization” that the Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC] called “‘an overt white nationalist organization with multiple connections to white supremacists.'” Ryan Zinke’s photo was featured on a Taylor Rose campaign pamphlet, with a quote from Zinke that said, “I need you to send great leaders like Taylor Rose to Helena.” Zinke later said he did not endorse the candidate.

Ryan Zinke endorsed Taylor Rose was “has been deeply active in white nationalism.” [Keegan Hankes, “Meet the New Wave of Extremists Gearing Up for the 2016 Elections,” Southern Poverty Law Center, 10/19/15]

“Republican House District 3 candidate Taylor Rose’s past affiliations with controversial and allegedly nationalist or white-supremacist organizations have raised alarms by watchdog groups as election day draws near. But Rose denies he, or the groups, have any such bias and he’s simply being attacked by left-wing organizations. One group Rose was affiliated with was Youth for Western Civilization, a now-defunct college organization. Rose served as vice president of the YWC chapter at his Alma mater, Liberty University, a private conservative Christian college founded by the Reverend Jerry Falwell. The Southern Poverty Law Center, in an article Oct. 3 called YWC ‘an overt white nationalist organization with multiple connections to white supremacists” that ‘often used code words such as “cultural identity” and “racial chauvinists” to disguise its racism, arguing that white people face rampant discrimination at the hands of multiculturalism.’ The law center is a long-time anti hate group. Rose recently denied the groups are white supremacist.”

“Rose also authored a book in 2012 titled ‘Return of the Right: How the Political Right is Taking Back Western Civilization.’ […] In a chapter titled Return of the Crusader and the Response to Islamism, Rose refers to Islamic peoples as ‘third worlders with barbaric practices.’ Rose accuses Islamists of ‘hostile protest against traditional UK institutions’ and equates all demonstrators with terrorism, writing ‘mosques that produce such “activists” [terrorists]… are located inside the UK.'” The book was promoted by the League of the South, which identifies itself as a Southern Nationalist organization. In the group’s Core Beliefs Statement, League of the South says ‘we stand for our own sublime cultural inheritance and seek to separate ourselves from the cultural rot that is American culture.’ But the Southern Poverty Law Center, in a recent article on Rose’s affiliations, called League of the South a ‘neo-Confederate hate group.'”

Taylor Rose was “vetted by the Flathead Republican Central Committee. He said was endorsed by Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke, as well as a number of senators and representatives. But when the Hungry Horse News contacted Zinke’s campaign, it said it did not endorse Rose.” [Anna Arvidson, “Southern Poverty Law Center calls out Taylor Rose,” Hungry Horse News, 10/26/16]

Ryan Zinke’s photo was featured on a Taylor Rose campaign pamphlet, with a quote from Zinke that said, “I need you to send great leaders like Taylor Rose to Helena.” [Denise Juneau for Congress, Press Release, 10/28/16]

Ryan Zinke has taken several photos with Sebastian Gorka, “a former Breitbart editor with Islamophobic views and ties to neo-Nazi extremists.”

On July 25, 2017, Sebastian Gorka tweeted a photo of himself and Ryan Zinke on Air Force One. [Tweet by Sebastian Gorka, 07/25/17, accessed 08/24/17]  

On August 23, 2017, Kenneth P. Vogel tweeted a photo of Ryan Zinke and Sebastian Gorka. [Tweet by Kenneth P. Vogel, 08/23/17, accessed 08/24/17]  

Sebastian Gorka is “a former Breitbart editor with Islamophobic views and ties to neo-Nazi extremists.” “During the decade and a half Gorka spent in Hungary, he was enmeshed in a web of ultraright, anti-Semitic and even Nazi-like parties, politicians and media outlets.” [Bob Dreyfuss, “Sebastian Gorka, the West Wing’s Phony Foreign-Policy Guru,Rolling Stone, 08/10/17]

Ryan Zinke, “when asked about those attempting to destroy or remove Confederate monuments,” told Breitbart News that “‘history is important’ and it should not be rewritten.” He advocated for “‘recognizing that two sides fought'” in the Civil War and “‘recognizing [the] historical significance of a change in our country.'”

“U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told Breitbart News that ‘history is important’ and it should not be rewritten when asked about those attempting to destroy or remove Confederate monuments while touring Antietam National Battlefield on Wednesday in western Maryland.” He said, “‘As an example, what did the battle of Antietam bring us? One is that it was the deadliest battle in the history of our country. But also, one could argue successfully, it also brought the Emancipation Proclamation. […] So there is goodness that came out of this battlefield […] Recognizing that two sides fought, recognizing [the] historical significance of a change in our country… so I’m an advocate for recognizing history as it is. Don’t rewrite history. Understand it for what it is and teach our kids the importance of looking at our magnificent history as a country and why we are who we are.'”  [Amanda House, “Ryan Zinke: Activists Shouldn’t ‘Rewrite History’ by Removing Confederate Monuments,” Breitbart, 07/05/17]

Breitbart is a “conservative news site” that executive chairman Steve Bannon has called a “‘platform for the alt-right.'” [“The Latest: Steve Bannon returns to Breitbart News site,” The Washington Post, 08/19/17 and David Weigel, “Steve Bannon may be out, but the ‘alt-right’ says their movement will continue,” The Washington Post, 08/18/17]

Ryan Zinke, in 2014, made denigrating comments about Native Americans, saying that “dependence on the government” was too high on some reservations.  Montana Indian Democrats Council President James Steele Jr. said the comment promoted “negative stereotypes.”

In 2014, Ryan Zinke reportedly made denigrating comments about Native Americans, saying that “dependence on the government” was too high on some reservations, and if “you want to feed someone, you need to teach a person how to fish.”  Montana Indian Democrats Council President James Steele Jr. said Zinke’s comments “promote negative stereotypes about Native Americans.” [FAL, “Campaigns talk cars, Native Americans,” Great Falls Tribune, 09/16/14]

Despite the potential negative impacts on Native American communities, Ryan Zinke co-sponsored legislation to require “all official functions of the United States to be conducted in English,” including Interior Department functions.  He collaborated with a hate group to promote the bill.

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, cosponsored H.R. 997, the English Language Unity Act of 2015, which would establish “English as the official language of the United States” and require “all official functions of the United States to be conducted in English.”  [H.R.997 – English Language Unity Act of 2015, U.S. House of Representatives, 02/13/15;  Press Release, Rep. Steve King, 02/13/15]

ProEnglish, which was categorized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, conducted an interview with Zinke about his support of the bill.  [ProEnglish interviews Congressman Ryan Zinke of Montana, ProEnglishOrg, 03/21/16;Anti-Immigrant Group ProEnglish Fails With English-Only Effort in Maryland,” Southern Poverty Law Center, 08/27/15]

Ryan Zinke said the United States needs “English as a common language.”

Ryan Zinke, in 2013, said the United States needs “English as a common language,” because “as Americans we need to be able to talk.  We need to be able to communicate with each other, and I think if you’re going to have a US passport, English is our unifying language.”  [“THE Hagmann AND Hagmann Report 9 9 2013 0, The Official Hagmann Report, 09/10/13]

Ryan Zinke, in 2014, said, “speak English! We’re one country under God. We should be able to speak English as a common language.  That’s the answer.” [Ryan Zinke, “MT AL Republican Primary Debate, 3 24 14,” YouTube, 03/25/14, (45:00)]

Ryan Zinke supports “requiring” citizens to be fluent in English and said it “infuriates” him when “driver’s license tests are in 15 different languages.”

Ryan Zinke, at a campaign event in Bigfork Montana in 2014, said, “‘it infuriates me when driver’s license tests are in 15 different languages.'”  Zinke “supports requiring citizens to be fluent in English.” [Caleb Soptlean, “RYAN ZINKE CAMPAIGNS IN BIGFORK, SAYS HILLARY CLINTON IS THE “ANTI-CHRIST,” Bigfork Eagle, 01/30/14]

Ryan Zinke said in reference to President Obama, “‘do I think…this President is a good man?  The answer is no.'” Zinke thinks President Obama is “lawless” and acts unconstitutionally. He does not think President Obama is truthful and supported impeaching him.

In 2015, Ryan Zinke responded to a man at a town hall meeting who said President Obama “gets away with what he does simply because of his skin color.” Zinke responded, “‘I’m a Christian so I try not to hate anybody,'” adding, “‘do I think…this President is a good man?  The answer is no.'” [David Jay, “Zinke answers questions about health care, security and the PresidentQ2 News via Archive.org, accessed 07/16/18]

Ryan Zinke, in 2016, said after an audience member mentioned that he does not know President Obama’s phone number, “Obama’s number is 1-800-BAD-MAN.”  [Minute 57 of “Congressman Ryan Zinke Steamboat Institute Global Security Summit,” Rick Akin via YouTube, 01/24/16 (57:24)]

Ryan Zinke, in 2014, said, “when my president gives a SOTU address, I want to say, ‘yes, he’s truthful.’  And right now, I’m not getting that.” [“Montana’s U.S. House seat debate,” Billing Gazette via YouTube, 06/10/14, (21:31)]

At a 2014 debate Ryan Zinke said, “‘I do believe we can put the president on the run.  He’s had six years of doing his will to this country, and I believe that’s intentional dismantling of American power both domestically and abroad.'” He added, “‘so is impeachment in the cards?  Let’s hope we have the votes.'” The moderator, who was “not completely satisfied with Zinke’s response, replied, ‘Is that a yes or a no?'” Zinke responded, “‘Yes.'” [Amanda Terkel, “Montana GOP House Candidates Push For Obama Impeachment,” The Huffington Post, 06/02/14]

In 2015 he said, “as clever as our founders were, and they were enormously clever, I don’t think they ever perceived of a president that would be as lawless, and at times, unconstitutional, and yet so popular.  I’m often asked, ‘well, just impeach the president,’ and I go, ‘well, look at the votes in the senate.” [“Talk Back With Congressman Ryan Zinke and UM Law Proffessor Jeff Renz,” Newstalk KGVO via YouTube, (12:35)]

Ryan Zinke regularly hosted a self-proclaimed “birther” and purveyor of conspiracy theories regarding President Obama on his radio show and described the man as “a worthy cause.” Zinke continued, “Truth does matter.  Some things are worth fighting for.” Zinke also questioned whether President Obama said he was a foreigner on his college application.

In 2013, Ryan Zinke had a self-described birther on his radio show.  Captain Larry Bailey said on the show, “one of my points of pride is that Obama, without using my name, said, ‘one of the leaders of the military groups that are against us has identified himself as birther.’  That was me! I did it.” Bailey then said that he was unable to get contributions from Karl Rove for his PAC, Special Operations Speak Out, because he is a birther.

In response to Bailey’s birther comments Ryan Zinke said, “and the college records.  Why not release them? I’m interested. Did he say he was a foreigner? And did he get a scholarship?”  Bailey then said a “black Muslim” with ties to the Saudi government arranged for President Obama to get admitted to Harvard, and that the Saudis paid his tuition.  In response, Zinke repeated that he wants to see President Obama’s college transcripts. [“Commander Z with Capt. Larry Baily,” Radioactive Broadcasting Network, 07/03/13, (20:00)]

Bailey went on to say Dreams from My Real Father gives a “water tight case” that President Obama’s father is not Barack Obama, Sr., but is in fact Frank Marshall Davis, who Bailey describes as “a pornographic member of the Communist party.” [“Commander Z with Capt. Larry Baily,” Radioactive Broadcasting Network, 07/03/13, (23:00)]

During the interview, Ryan Zinke said to Bailey, “you’re certainly a worthy cause for patriots out there.  Truth does matter. Some things are worth fighting for.” [“Commander Z with Capt. Larry Baily,” Radioactive Broadcasting Network, 07/03/13, (25:00)]

Ryan Zinke, while appearing on “The Birther Report,” said President Obama “has been the worst in our history.”

Ryan Zinke appeared on a radio show called “The Birther Report” in March 2016. On the show, he said, “I think this president has been the worst in our history.”  [“U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke: Obama Impeachment; Cruz Article II Eligibility In Question,” Birther Report on YouTube, 03/09/16 [06:00]]

Ryan Zinke listens and appeared on a right-wing radio show sponsored by a wholesale survival business.  A Tea Party group advertised on the show on the day Zinke was on the show. The ad called President Obama a Marxist who uses “Gestapo tactics.”  The ad says “Hitler would be proud” of President Obama.

Ryan Zinke, in 2013, appeared on the Hagmann & Hagmann Report, which is a right-wing radio show sponsored by American Survival Wholesale.  American Survival Wholesale sells survival goods, such as green beans that will last “20 plus years.” The Hagmanns encourage listeners to buy these green beans because of “foreign entanglements, domestic unrest, economic uncertainty, and unemployment.”  

An ad on this show sponsored by the 21st Century Tea Party Patriots on the day Zinke was on the show warned that “the Obama campaign has launched attack squads disguised as truth teams dedicated to silencing all political dissent carried over the Internet that criticizes the Marxist Obama.” The 21st Century Tea Party Patriots claim in the ad that the Obama campaign uses “Gestapo tactics.”  The ad concludes that “Hitler would be proud” of President Obama. [Ryan Zinke, “THE Hagmann AND Hagmann Report 9 9 2013 0,” YouTube, 09/10/13, (01:04:00)]

In 2016, after the shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Ryan Zinke said, “I mean two weeks ago, when you were in an elevator with a black guy — not even a second look, right?  Now you get in an elevator with a black guy and a policeman, something’s changed in how you view that small trip up the elevator.”

In July 2016, after the shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Ryan Zinke said, “I mean two weeks ago, when you were in an elevator with a black guy — not even a second look, right?  Now you get in an elevator with a black guy and a policeman, something’s changed in how you view that small trip up the elevator.” He also said “the fabric of America is being stretched and hey, this thing could rip.” [Joe Perticone, “GOP Congressman: ‘Something Has Changed’ on Race Relations Since Dallas and Baton Rouge,” IJR, 07/18/16]

Ryan Zinke voted in support of deporting DREAMers.

Ryan Zinke, on January 14, 2015, voted for an amendment to “halt the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program [DACA], which lifts deportation for some illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children.”

[Rebecca Shabad and Cristina Marcos, “House passes bill to defund Obama’s immigration orders,” The Hill, 01/14/15; House Vote 30 for H.R. 240, 01/14/15]

Ryan Zinke said, “‘Barack Obama…hijacked the U.S. Constitution.'”  These words, according to the Billings Gazette, are “polarizing and extreme.” The Billings Gazette opined, “the most important thing in Zinke’s mind isn’t running the country and finding solutions; instead, it’s finding someone who will stand up against Barack Obama. That’s good if you’re trying to pander to any already frenzied base. But, if Zinke really cared so much about the country, wouldn’t his first priority be to find someone who will work with the President?”

Ryan Zinke said, “‘Barack Obama and the Washington bureaucrats…have hijacked the U.S. Constitution.'”  These words, according to the Billings Gazette, “seem polarizing and extreme.”

“The rhetoric employed by Zinke is an us-versus-them mentality that seems to have landed us in a constant cycle of shutdown threats.

The most important thing in Zinke’s mind isn’t running the country and finding solutions; instead, it’s finding someone who will stand up against Barack Obama.  That’s good if you’re trying to pander to any already frenzied base. But, if Zinke really cared so much about the country, wouldn’t his first priority be to find someone who will work with the President?”

After all, “leadership is rising above politics to find solutions,” the Billings Gazette concluded.  [“Gazette Opinion: The shutdown caucuses and the politics of polarization”[Opinion], Billings Gazette, 09/30/15]

Lola Zinke

Secretary Zinke’s wife, Lolita Zinke “has frustrated [Interior] department staffers by saddling them with extra work” and causing “headaches” when she has used government resources for travel that does not appear to have been for government business.

“Secretary Ryan Zinke’s wife has frustrated department staffers by saddling them with extra work when she traveled with him on official business,” including work to “accommodate a last-minute request for her to join the secretary at an official dinner with Alaska’s governor” that was part of “an official trip to Norway, Greenland and Alaska” that Lola Zinke went on and “caused some headaches by deciding to stay longer than expected.” The Interior Department said “Lola Zinke paid her own way,” but “the records show Interior used staff time to coordinate some of her activities while traveling with her husband. And the trips gave her access to high-level politicians and GOP activists and donors who could benefit her as a political operator in her own right.” [Ben Lefebvre, “’UGH!’: Zinke’s wife’s travel caused headaches for Interior staff,” Politico, 11/20/17]

One of Secretary Ryan Zinke’s “Special Assistants” at the Department of the Interior helped facilitate Lolita Zinke’s guest list and their attendance at a political event in California.

On Monday, April 17, 2017, Ryan Zinke was a guest speaker at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, where he spoke “before a crowd of local stakeholders and supporters of Young America’s Foundation.” The Young America’s Foundation describes itself as the “principal outreach organization of the Conservative Movement.” [Beth Farnsworth, “U.S. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke Travels to Santa Barbara,” KEYT.com, 04/17/17, Libertas, Young America Foundation, Volume 38, No. 1, and “About,” Young America’s Foundation, accessed 11/16/17]

Prior to his appearance at the event, Special Assistant to the Secretary Caroline Boulton forwarded “Lola’s guest list” to a staffer with the Young America’s Foundation in Santa Barbara, California. Her guest list is redacted based on the “personal privacy” exemption in the Freedom of Information Act, but Boulton notes that Lola was “expecting some of them to bring plus ones.” [Ryan Zinke Travel Records [Page 96], accessed 11/16/17]

Lolita Zinke may have been “pushing” to take a MILAIR flight from Alaska back to Washington, DC, at the conclusion of her trip to Norway and Alaska.

On May 18, 2017, Caroline Boulton, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior, wrote directly to Lola Zinke concerning the upcoming Norway/Alaska trip. Boulton wrote:

[Ryan Zinke Travel Records [Page 88], accessed 11/16/17]

Lolita Zinke flew on MILAIR and various chartered aircraft while en route and traveling within Norway.

On the May 26, 2017 MILAIR flight from Andrews Air Force Base to Tromsø Airport [TOS] in Norway, Secretary Ryan Zinke and his wife, Lolita Zinke, were two of the 22 passengers – including  five US Senators and four of their spouses – aboard the plane. [Ryan Zinke Travel Records [Page 1], accessed 11/16/17]

This aircraft, with tail number 50932, is one of “four C-40Cs” assigned to “the Air Force Reserve Command’s 932nd Airlift Wing.” The “C-40C customers include members of the Cabinet and Congress” and are used to provide “safe, comfortable and reliable transportation for U.S. leaders to locations around the world.” [Roger Schlueter, “VIP plane has been flying out of Scott since 2007,” Belleville News-Democrat, 08/31/15 and “C-40B/C,” US Air Force, 06/04/03]

After arriving at Tromsø Airport [TOS], the delegation transferred “to [the] main terminal for private charter” to Hammerfest Airport [HFT]. The flight manifest included both Ryan and Lolita Zinke as well as other Senators and spouses. [Ryan Zinke Travel Records [Pages 3 and 5], accessed 11/16/17]

After their activities in Hammerfest, the delegation returned to Hammerfest Airport [HFT] and boarded a “chartered aircraft” to Trondheim [TRD]. The flight manifest included both Ryan and Lolita Zinke as well as other Senators and spouses. [Ryan Zinke Travel Records [Pages 4 and 5], accessed 11/16/17]

On May 27, 2017, the delegation left Trondheim and took MILAIR to Thule Air Base, Greenland. The manifest for this specific leg of the trip was not immediately available. [Ryan Zinke Travel Records [Page 4], accessed 11/16/17]

While in Norway, Mrs. Zinke visited the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry. [Facebook Photo, “CROSS-CULTURAL FRIENDSHIP: Mrs. Lolita Zinke, wife of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, takes a selfie with Anders Oskal, Director of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry,” US Embassy Oslo Official Facebook Page, 05/28/17]

Lolita Zinke, in the first days of Ryan Zinke’s tenure as Interior Secretary, accompanied him to meet various Department of the Interior employees.

The Office of Surface Mining, on March 2, 2017, tweeted a photo of Ryan and Lola Zinke being “welcome[d]” by OSMRE employees to the Interior Department:

[Tweet by Office of Surface Mining, accessed 04/18/17]

According to a tweet from Associated Press reporter Matthew Daly, on March 3, 2017, Lola Zinke accompanied Ryan Zinke to “greet DOI employees.”

[Tweet by Matthew Daly, accessed 04/18/17]

On March 3, 2017, Ryan Zinke introduced Lola Zinke to a large room of Interior Department employees.  [“Secretary Zinke Greets Employees on Interior’s Birthday,” Department of the Interior, 03/04/17]

Secretary Ryan Zinke, on March 10, 2017, tweeted photos of a tribal blessing ceremony from Blackfeet Nation. Lolita Zinke appeared to be sitting next to him.

On March 10, 2017, it appears that Lola Zinke was sitting next to Ryan Zinke when he received a tribal blessing ceremony from Blackfeet Nation.

[Tweet by Secretary Ryan Zinke, accessed 04/18/17]

On March 29, 2017, Lolita Zinke attended Ryan Zinke’s signing of two secretarial orders that advanced coal, oil, and gas development on federal lands. It appears that Lolita Zinke was the only person attending, besides Ryan Zinke, who was not a member of Congress.

Based on a tweet from Ryan Zinke’s official account, on March 29, 2017, Lola Zinke attended the signing of two secretarial orders that advanced coal, oil and gas development on federal lands. Lola Zinke appears to be the only person who attended the signing, besides Zinke himself, who was not a member of Congress.
[Tweet by Secretary Ryan Zinke, accessed 04/18/17]

On April 11, 2017, Ryan Zinke’s official account tweeted a photo of Lolita and Ryan Zinke and their dog Ragnar in an Interior Department building.

On April 11, 2017, Ryan Zinke’s official account tweeted “Happy #nationalpetday from Lola, Ragnar and me. Only 25 days til #DoggieDay at @Interior” The photo was taken it what appears to be an Interior Department building.

[Tweet by Secretary Ryan Zinke, accessed 04/18/17]

Lolita Zinke, on April 13, 2017, “sat in” on Secretary Ryan Zinke’s “meeting in California with Gov. Jerry Brown and in discussions with regional directors of FWS, USGS, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Indian Affairs.” According to an Interior Department spokesperson, she was “not acting in an official capacity.”

Lola Zinke, on April 13, 2017, “sat in” on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s “meeting in California with Gov. Jerry Brown and in discussions with regional directors of FWS, USGS, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Indian Affairs.” However Interior spokeswoman Megan Bloomgren said that Lola Zinke was “not acting in an official capacity” and that she “paid for her own flight out and is staying with her mother who leaves nearby in the state.” [Anthony Adragna, “Unfilled PHMSA slots imperil pipeline projects,” Politico, 04/14/17]

On April 13, 2017, Ryan Zinke tweeted the following photo of his meeting with regional directors of USGS, USFWS, BLM, US Bureau of Reclamation and Indian Affairs, with Lola Zinke sitting to his right.

[Tweet by Secretary Ryan Zinke, accessed 04/18/17]

Ryan Zinke, on April 13, 2017, tweeted the following photo of Lola Zinke feeding Jerry Brown’s dog during their meeting with Brown.

[Tweet by Secretary Ryan Zinke, accessed 04/18/17]

Lola Zinke, on April 13, 2017, tweeted the same photo of herself feeding Jerry Brown’s dog, with the caption, “CA’s First dog, Calusa Brown. Dogs make people happy, treats make dogs happy.”

[Tweet by Lola Zinke, accessed 04/18/17]

Lolita Zinke accompanied Secretary Ryan Zinke on an official trip to Antietam National Battlefield.

On July 5, 2017, Lola Zinke’s name appeared in the vehicle manifests for an official trip Secretary Zinke took to Antietam National Battlefield. The Zinkes drove from DC to Antietam and back to Interior headquarters in DC in the same day. [17-00707, Page 43-44]

Lolita Zinke was invited to, but decided not to attend, “an important ethics briefing for all Cabinet spouses and significant others” organized by the White House.

Lola Zinke was invited to, but decided not to attend, a Spouses Ethics Briefing put on by the White House’s Office of Cabinet Affairs. The briefing was described as “an important ethics briefing for all Cabinet spouses and significant others.”

Lola Zinke wrote to Caroline Boulton, Secretary Zinke’s scheduler, saying she would “not be in town” on October 20, 2017, the date of the ethics training. She continued, “Last time I went to ethics briefing, I was held outside gate for 45 min and missed most of briefing. That was after I bought my own cross country airline ticket.”

Part of the briefing was regarding “cross-cultural literacy.” Lola Zinke commented to Caroline Boulton, “Also , what the heck is cross cultural literacy???” [17-00707, Pages 2802-2803]

Record on Land Transfer and Transfer of Management Issues

Ryan Zinke said he “‘will not tolerate selling our public lands,'” but he has been for and against transferring federal land to states.  He thinks Montana manages public lands better than the federal government.

“In January 2015, Congressman Zinke told the Montana State Legislature, ‘I will not tolerate selling our public lands.'”  [“Public Lands,” Congressman Ryan Zinke accessed via Archive.org 07/17/18]

In July 2016, Zinke “resigned his position as a [Republican] party delegate, telling the Billings Gazette that he disagrees with his party’s platform position that says federal public lands should be transferred to the states.” [“Rep. Zinke, GOP Delegate Share Disagreement With Party Platform,” Montana Public Radio, accessed 07/17/18]

However, during his 2012 campaign for lieutenant governor Ryan Zinke signed the “Montana Constitutional Governance Pledge that calls for turning federal land over to the states.”  [“Neil Livingstone is the first Montana candidate to sign the Montana Constitutional Governance Pledge,” PolyMontana, accessed via Archive.org 07/17/18]

In 2014, Ryan Zinke said on Montana’s management of its state lands, “from every side the state is doing a better job and we have to look at why and what’s the state doing that the feds aren’t doing.”  [Tom Kuglin, Transferring federal lands to Montana: Political theater or a viable option?,” Billings Gazette, 08/31/14]

Ryan Zinke, in 2014, said, “Montana manages the forests, our forests, a lot better.  You can ask all sides. Montana does a better job of managing…forests than the Forest Service.”  [“Zinke, 1/30/14, Hometown Helena Part 2,” mtalrawfootage via YouTube, 02/03/14 (02:00]

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, said, “‘I believe Montana knows best how to manage our power and our resources, much better than unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C, do,” including bureaucrats at the Bureau of Land Management.

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, said, “‘I believe Montana knows best how to manage our power and our resources, much better than unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C, do. In Montana, we value our beautiful lands and clean air and water, and we all work together to conserve our resources.  Our state has already reduced our emissions rates without the federal government getting involved. The EPA’s supposed ‘Clean Power Plan’ will kill good-paying union jobs and drive up costs for Montana families and small businesses.” [MTN News, “Montana joins suit to block EPA power plant emissions rule,”KPAX, 10/23/15]

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, also said, “it’s not only the EPA.  It’s the BLM. It’s sage grouse. It’s across the board. There’s this mantra that Washington, DC, knows best.  They know best how to manage our wildlife. They know best how to manage our water, and I disagree. I strongly disagree.  These are rules being made by bureaucrats in DC who don’t know where Montana is on the map, and if you don’t know the difference between Missoula and Butte and Bozeman, maybe you’re not the right person to be making these rules that affect Butte, Bozeman, and Missoula.  It’s time to push back, and we can.” [“Talk Back With Congressman Ryan Zinke and UM Law Proffessor Jeff Renz,” Newstalk KVGO via YouTube, 05/28/15, (01:00)]

Ryan Zinke said that he supports allowing state and local governments to manage federal public lands and that “federal ownership and local management can provide the proper balance among interests and be a viable model for management of certain federal lands.” In his confirmation hearing, he said that in many Bureau of Land Management [BLM] decisions “we’ve been too heavy handed.” On returning some conservation jurisdiction back to the states he said that generally “those living on the ground are in a better position and we should be an advocate and a partner in this rather than heavy handed and just dictate terms, particularly when we don’t have a number.”

Zinke said that he supports allowing state and local governments to manage federal public lands because “local and state officials will be more aware and respectful of the interests of their local constituents and that land will be managed differently based on local considerations.” He also believes that “federal ownership and local management can provide the proper balance among interests and be a viable model for management of certain federal lands.” [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Questionnaire, Ryan Zinke, 01/17/17]

Zinke said, in terms of BLM decisions, “I think in many cases we’ve been too heavy handed as a nation and there’s a separation between those living in the land and those managing it and unfortunately a lot of times those managing it, decisions are made here.” [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Ryan Zinke Hearing, 01/17/17]  

Zinke said, on returning some conservation jurisdiction back to the states, “[g]enerally, those living on the ground are in a better position and we should be an advocate and a partner in this rather than heavy handed and just dictate terms, particularly when we don’t have a number.” [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Ryan Zinke Hearing, 01/17/17]

Zinke said public land decisions should “be close to the land, and in some instances, in Utah, where you have 67 percent is BLM.  You could [have] different management schemes on it.” [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Ryan Zinke Hearing, 01/17/17]

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, said he is “concerned about the federal government’s role in the conservation process.”  He thinks the Bureau of Land Management’s plan for sage grouse management undermines “‘the authority of sovereign states to manage [their] own land'” and withdraws too much “‘land that has the potential for natural resource development.'”

Ryan Zinke, in a 2016 letter, said he supported the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s “efforts to acquire the 5,350 acre Dome Mountain Ranch in Park County, Montana” because the acquisition would help “wildlife range continuity” and because “the economic benefits of protecting the land under the state of Montana’s management are enormous.”

On November 10, 2016, Zinke wrote a letter to David Allen, President and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, saying that he supported the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s “efforts to acquire the 5,350 acre Dome Mountain Ranch in Park County, Montana.” The land that would be acquired would later be “conveyed to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and join the existing Dome Mountain Wildlife Management Area.” Zinke supported this effort because it helped “wildlife range continuity” and because “the economic benefits of protecting the land under the state of Montana’s management are enormous.” [Page 44, MFWP FOIA Response, 11/10/16]

Ryan Zinke, in 2014, proposed that “‘federal land-management decisions must be approved by local government officials.'”

In 2014, as part of his public-lands plan, Ryan Zinke proposed that “federal land-management decisions must be approved by local government officials.”  [Lisa Baumann, “Zinke Wants Locals to Approve Feds’ Land Plans,” Flathead Beacon, 10/16/14]

In an example of supporting transferring control from the federal government to states, Ryan Zinke voted in committee for an amendment to transfer authority to set fishing seasons from federal to state control.  On the same day he voted to allow regional fisheries “greater flexibility” to change fish catch totals, allowing decisions on whether limits should remain or be lifted to be “based less on traditional science” and more on “first-hand observations” from fishermen.  He also voted in committee for an amendment that transferred authority to set fishing seasons from federal to state control.

Ryan Zinke, on April 30, 2015, voted in the House Natural Resources for H.R. 1335, which was a bill to reauthorize the “Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the top law regulating fishing in U.S. oceans, and give regional fisheries managers greater flexibility to shift catch totals as ocean conditions and science change.”  Under this legislation, “a fishing stock’s status – and whether limits should remain or be lifted – could be based less on traditional science and more on first-hand observations and data collected at docks from fishermen bringing their hauls to shore.”  The bill was passed at the urging of “recreational fisherman economically stung by…catch limits.” However, “environmentalists and some fishermen oppose[d] the change, arguing it would gut safeguards necessary to protect once-endangered fish populations. They say hard science would give way to anecdotal evidence that might give a false impression of a stock’s health.”  [House Natural Resources Committee, 04/30/15; Matthew Daly; “House passes bill to give regional managers greater say in fishing; White House threatens veto”, US News & World Report 06/01/15; USA Today, 05/19/15]

On the same day Zinke voted in committee for the Graves amendment to H.R. 1335, which was an amendment to transfer authority from to set fishing seasons from the federal level, where it is currently managed by “NOAA’s Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council,” to “a new consortium of five Gulf states.”  [House Natural Resources Committee, 04/30/15, The Times-Picayune, 06/04/15, and Naples Daily News, 07/19/15]

Ryan Zinke, in 2016, voted to allow “‘demonstration areas’ made up of national forests with governor-appointed advisory committees steering management under state and private forestry regulations,” which would provide “a path to privatizing forests by stripping federal authority” and undermining “‘bedrock environmental laws, including the Clean Water and Clean Air acts.'”  At the time, his spokesman said “he has always supported more say from local communities in forest management while not supporting transfer of ownership.”

In 2016, Ryan Zinke “voted in favor of the Self-Sufficient Community Lands Act, legislation allowing ‘demonstration areas’ made up of national forests with governor-appointed advisory committees steering management under state and private forestry regulations.  Demonstration areas up to 4 million acres total could be designated at the behest of the committees. The act, which passed committee 25-13,” aimed “to generate local economic activity in communities dependent on national forests.”

John Todd, Montana Wilderness Association conservation director, argued that the bill would provide “a path to privatizing forests by stripping federal authority,” which “‘would undermine bedrock environmental laws, including the Clean Water and Clean Air acts, and give extractive industry exclusive control of our national forests.'”  The “‘unprecedented approach to transferring and industrializing public lands would lead to the loss of clean water, wildlife habitat, and recreational use of public lands that are owned by all Americans.'”

Zinke disputed the notion that this was at odds with his position on land transfers.  His spokesperson said “he has always supported more say from local communities in forest management while not supporting transfer of ownership.”  [Tom Kuglin, Conservation and access groups slam Zinke’s vote as land transfer flip flop,” Helena Independent Record, 06/06/16]

Financials

Financial Disclosure

[Ryan Zinke, ProPublica, accessed 03/13/18]

Relevant Voting Prior to Becoming Interior Secretary

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, introduced an amendment that would have blocked the Obama administration from implementing a rule to close a loophole that allows coal companies “to sell coal to their own subsidiary companies at intentionally depressed prices to avoid royalty payments,” thereby “shortchanging Western states on revenue that could be used for schools, roads, and other priorities.” Zinke’s proposal to keep the loophole open was referred to as a “shameless break” for big oil companies.

Cloud Peak Energy

Cloud Peak Energy, whose PAC gave Zinke’s campaign fund $4,500 in the five months before he introduced the amendment and $6,000 in the two months after he introduced the amendment, appeared to be the “biggest benefactor” and “most staunch defender” of the loophole. Zinke also wrote a letter to the Interior Department asking that they take into account a peer review “completed by Energy Ventures Analysis, Inc.”(EVA) in their consideration of whether or not to close the loophole. The EVA report was completed “at the request of Cloud Peak Energy.”

[Nicole Gentile, “Congressman Tries To Quietly Preserve Coal Loophole,” Think Progress, 06/30/15, and Editorial, “Gazette opinion: Zinke pushes quietly to take money away from taxpayers,” Billings Gazette, 07/06/15, Matt Le and Nidhi Thakar, “Massive Coal Company Fights To Preserve Loopholes, Ability To Rip Off Taxpayers,” ThinkProgress, 08/11/15, and Ryan Zinke to Sally Jewell, 09/28/15]

Alpha Natural Resources and Peabody Energy

Alpha Natural Resources and Peabody Energy, which have contributed thousands of dollars to Ryan Zinke’s campaign committee, also appear to benefit from this loophole as both companies have numerous domestic and foreign subsidiaries.

[Political Moneyline Search for Ryan Zinke, CQ, accessed 07/07/17, and Matt Lee-Ashley and Nidhi Thakar, “King Coal is Merrily Fiddling the Taxpayer,” Newsweek, 01/12/15]

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, was a cosponsor and voted in committee for H.R. 1644.

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, was a cosponsor and voted in committee for H.R. 1644, legislation to block Interior’s Office of Surface Mining (OSM) from publishing new rules on mountaintop removal mining until OSM “conduct[ed] an ‘industry impact’ study.” The rule that the legislation aimed to block would “update standards for buffer zones around streams where mining activities and waste are prohibited.”

The Vice President of Alpha Natural Resources, one of the coal companies that donated to Zinke’s campaign, testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources that OSM’s proposal to update standards for buffer zones around streams was “unnecessary, unjustified, and dangerous and certainly [did] not meet any cost-benefit standard.” Cloud Peak Energy, another Zinke donor, also lobbied Congress in support of H.R. 1644.

[John Paul Jones, “‘Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America Act’ (H.R. 2824),” House Committee on Natural Resources, 08/02/13, “H.R. 1644,” House Natural Resources Committee Vote, 09/10/15, H.R. 1644, United States House of Representatives, 114th Congress, Alex Guillen, “Interior proposes boosting stream protections from coal mining,” Politico, 07/16/15, Devin Henry, “GOP bill blocking Obama coal rule set to hit House floor,” The Hill, 01/06/16, and “Cloud Peak Energy Resources 2015 Third Quarter Report,” United States Senate Lobbying Disclosure Act Database, accessed 07/09/17]

Ryan Zinke was “a vocal proponent of the ill-fated Gateway Pacific Terminal.”

Ryan Zinke was “a vocal proponent of the ill-fated Gateway Pacific Terminal,” which “was supposed to be the largest coal exporting facility on the West Coast.” Zinke called the project “‘a must-build project.'” The permit for the project was denied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which said that “the project would infringe on” tribal fishing rights.

Zinke campaign donor Cloud Peak Energy had significant financial interest in the Gateway Pacific Terminal, and Zinke co-sponsored “a controversial amendment” that would “guarantee the completion of [the] National Environmental Policy Act review” for the Gateway Pacific Terminal. The amendment was “controversial” because the Lummi Nation said that the Gateway Pacific Terminal project “would violate treaty-protected fishing rights and, therefore, the Army Corps of Engineers [had] no business reviewing permit applications.” Peabody Energy, another one of Zinke’s donors, was also “a major supporter and potential customer of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal.”

[Peter Wagner, “Zinke, a proponent of GPT terminal, tapped for interior secretary,” KGMI News, 12/15/16, accessed via archive.org, Nives Dolšak, Aseem Prakash, & Maggie Allen, “The big fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline, explained,” Washington Post, 09/20/08, Steve Daines, Press Release, 07/29/15, Cloud Peak Energy, Press Release, 08/13/15, Grace Toohey, “Northwest tribes fear corporate interests trump treaty rights,” McClatchy, 12/03/15, Manuel Quiñones, “Tribes to lobby against pro-export amendment,” Energy & Environment, 12/02/15, and Samantha Wohlfeil, “Potential Cherry Point coal terminal customer files for bankruptcy,” Bellingham Herald, 04/13/16]

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, introduced H.R. 1522.

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, introduced H.R. 1522, which was a bill “to make the Indian Coal Production Tax Credit (ICPTC) permanent.” The tax break when this bill was introduced applied “only to mines put into service before 2009,” but Zinke’s bill included “language to lift the date restriction so that Cloud Peak’s proposed Big Metal Mine.” This mine, on the Crow Indian Reservation, would qualify for the tax break. Cloud Peak Energy also lobbied Congress on H.R. 1522.

[Ryan Zinke, Press Release, 03/16/15, accessed via archive.org, Matthew Brown, “Montana delegation seeks to make coal tax break permanent,” Associated Press, 03/12/15, and “Cloud Peak Energy Resources 2015 First Quarter Report,” United States Senate Lobbying Disclosure Act Database, accessed 07/09/17]

Ryan Zinke, in 2016, introduced H.R. 5259.

Ryan Zinke, in 2016, introduced H.R. 5259, a bill to “overturn a temporary federal ban on coal leases.” Cloud Peak Energy “‘strongly'” supported this bill.

[Ryan Zinke, Press Release, 05/17/16, accessed via archive.org, and Tom Lutey, “Zinke pushes to end coal lease suspension, empower communities,” Montana Standard, 06/14/16]

Ryan Zinke and 14 other members of Congress, on February 10, 2015, sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell asking that the Interior Department “provide a 60-day extension of the comment period” for a rule which had to with “reconsidering whether Americans are receiving a ‘fair return’ on sales of coal, oil and natural gas taken from public lands.”

A spokesman for Senator Steve Daines, whose office circulated the letter, said that Daines’ office “‘worked closely'” with Cloud Peak Energy when “‘developing the language'” of the letter. Cloud Peak Energy’s Communications Director said that the proposed rule was part of the Obama administration’s “‘onslaught on the coal industry.'”

[Tom Lutey, “Carbon copies: Elected officials pass coal industry letter off as their own,” Billings Gazette, 07/15/15 and Steve Daines et. al to Sally Jewell, 02/10/15]

Ryan Zinke, on January 3, 2017, voted to “make it easier for…Congress to cede federal control of public lands” by changing “the way Congress calculates the cost of transferring federal lands to the states.”

[H Res 5, House of Representatives Vote, 01/03/17, “H. Res. 5,” United States House of Representatives, 115th Congress, Juliet Eilperin, “House GOP rules change will make it easier to sell off federal land,” Washington Post, 01/03/17, and Emily Yehle and Jennifer Yachnin, “Zinke scares greens by backing rule to ease land transfers,” Greenwire, accessed 01/05/17]

Ryan Zinke, on September 10, 2015, voted in the House Natural Resources Committee for H.R. 538.

Ryan Zinke, on September 10, 2015, voted in the House Natural Resources Committee for H.R. 538, the Native American Energy Act, which was legislation to “exempt tribal lands from any regulations on hydraulic fracturing” and allow “environmental assessments required by the National Environmental Policy Act” to be “avoided.”

[“H.R. 538,” House Natural Resources Committee Vote, 09/10/15, Charles McConnell, “House OKs bill giving tribes more control over mineral resources,” Arizona Daily Sun, 10/09/15, and Rebecca Moss, “Tribal leaders, U.S. lawmakers discuss energy development, drawing protest,” Santa Fe New Mexican, 10/04/16]

Ryan Zinke, on July 8, 2015, voted for an “amendment from Rep. Steve Pearce” to “prohibit any increase in the royalty rates paid for oil and gas.”

[Roll Call 408, House of Representatives Vote, 07/08/15, and Heather Taylor-Miesle, “Friends of Polluters Rack Up More Dirty Votes,” Huffington Post, 08/11/15]

Ryan Zinke, on June 4, 2015, voted against the Lois Capps amendment to H.R. 2577.

Ryan Zinke, on June 4, 2015, voted against the Lois Capps amendment to H.R. 2577. This was an amendment to raise “fees on oil companies to increase funding for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which regulates oil pipelines,” to provide funding to finalize and implement pipeline safety and spill mitigation rules.

[Roll Call 305, House of Representatives Vote, 06/04/15, and Sean McMinn, “With clock ticking on Capps’s time in Washington, she’s looking for some ‘progress,'” Scripps Howard Foundation Wire, 06/16/15]

Ryan Zinke, on June 11, 2015, voted in committee for H.R. 2295.

Ryan Zinke, on June 11, 2015, voted in committee for H.R. 2295, legislation that would allow the Interior Secretary to issue rights-of-way for pipelines on National Park Service lands and would require the Interior Secretary to designate “at least 10 National Energy Security Corridors on federal lands… within two years.” The legislation would also “allow the Interior secretary to designate corridors without first completing the type of review required under the National Environmental Policy Act.”

[“H.R. 2295,” House Natural Resources Committee Vote, 06/11/15, and Jasmin Melvin, “House panel moves pipeline rights-of-way bill ahead,” Platts Gas Daily, 06/12/15]

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, was an original cosponsor of H.R. 3946.

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, was an original cosponsor of H.R. 3946, “Protecting Local Communities from Executive Overreach Act,” a bill to “limit presidential monuments to 5,000 acres or less,” ban them in parts of the West, and prohibit a president from designating or expanding a national monument without local approval. Opponents said the bill would “require an unattainable level of public input and local approval conditions for the establishment of new national monuments.”

[H.R. 3946, United States House of Representatives, 114th Congress, Jenny Rowland, “The Rise to Power of the Congressional Anti-parks Caucus,” Center for American Progress, 04/11/16, and Shaun McKinnon, “What’s rocking Sedona? A red rock monument, Obama, and a fistfight,” Arizona Republic, 12/09/15]

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, sponsored a bill to “make mining and drilling easier on Indian reservations.”

[Tom Lutey, “Zinke a key lawmaker in removing U.S. crude export ban,” Billings Gazette, 10/07/15]

Ryan Zinke, in 2016, co-signed a letter urging a change to “allow states to manage preservation efforts of the Mexican Gray Wolf without interference from the federal government,” because the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service has “proven to be incapable” in this area.

[Paul Gosar et. al. to Ken Calvert and Betty McCollum, 03/22/16]

Other Information

In 2012, Ryan Zinke ran for lieutenant governor.

In 2012, Ryan Zinke ran for lieutenant governor of Montana on a ticket with gubernatorial candidate Neil Livingstone, who claims he “partied with pirates, been stalked by Nazis, and tried (unsuccessfully) to spring Moammar Qaddafi from Libya.” Ryan Zinke said that “Livingstone is just the kind of leader” that Montana needed.

[Tim Murphy, “The Most Interesting Gubernatorial Candidate in the World,” Mother Jones, 03/27/12, and Charles Johnson, “Republican Livingstone announces campaign for governor, names running mate,” Missoulian, 07/11/11]

Ryan Zinke has been all over the map on climate change.

Ryan Zinke has been all over the map on climate change. He signed a letter to President Obama “urging climate change legislation,” but he also said climate change is “‘not proven science'” and that as a geologist “he has seen no scientific evidence…that climate change is changing the weather.” Zinke “doesn’t even think that climate change is manmade.”

[Troy Carter, “U.S. House race: Zinke presents energy plan,” Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 07/30/14, Troy Carter, “Zinke: Lewis wrong on energy,” Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 06/18/14, Charles Johnson, “Lewis, Zinke debate federal budget, health care, global warming,” Billings Gazette, 10/04/14, and “Shields and Brooks on Sen. Joni Ernst’s response to the 2015 State of the Union,” PBS Newshour, 01/20/15]

Ryan Zinke favors reforming the Antiquities Act, which he thinks has been abused.

[Ryan Zinke, “US Congressional GOP Candidate Debate MT AT Large,” YouTube, 04/20/16, (85:00)]

Although Ryan Zinke has said he “‘will not tolerate selling our public lands,'” he has flip-flopped between being for and against transferring federal land to states.

[“Public Lands,” Congressman Ryan Zinke, accessed via archive.org, Eric Whitney, “Rep. Zinke, GOP Delegate Share Disagreement With Party Platform,” Montana Public Radio, 07/18/16, “Neil Livingstone is the first Montana candidate to sign the Montana Constitutional Governance Pledge,” PolyMontana, accessed via archive.org, and John S. Adams, “Lewis’ ad takes aim at Zinke’s public land record,” Great Falls Tribune, 10/06/14]

Ryan Zinke has said he is “‘concerned about the federal government’s role in the conservation process.'”

Ryan Zinke has said he is “‘concerned about the federal government’s role in the conservation process.'” He thinks the Bureau of Land Management’s plan for Sage Grouse management undermines “‘the authority of sovereign states to manage [their] own land'” and withdraws too much “‘land that has the potential for natural resource development.'”

[Ryan Zinke, Press Release, 09/22/15, accessed via archive.org, and Ryan Zinke, Press Release, 05/28/15, accessed via archive.org]

Ryan Zinke said he wants “to speed up oil and gas drilling on lands managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.” 

Ryan Zinke, in 2014, said he wants “to speed up oil and gas drilling on lands managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.” In 2015, he signed a letter to the Department of Interior complaining that oil and gas lease sales were not being approved fast enough.

[Matthew Brown and Lisa Baumann, “Montana’s U.S. House candidates’ energy plans reveal contrasts,” Missoulian, 08/03/14, and House Committee on Natural Resources, Press Release, 12/16/15]

Ryan Zinke opposed the Department of Interior’s 2015 fracking rules.

Ryan Zinke opposed the Department of Interior’s 2015 fracking rules, which increased safety standards for hydraulic fracturing on public lands. The regulations included “new standards for the construction of wells and the disposal of waste water in fracking conducted on federal land.”

[“Obama administration puts new rules on fracking,” CNN, 03/20/15]

Ryan Zinke believes that “fracking is safe.”

Ryan Zinke believes that “fracking is safe.” He said, “he has seen no scientific evidence that fracking is environmentally dangerous” and that “it is bunk that fracking is environmentally unsound.”

[Tweet by Ryan Zinke, accessed 07/07/17, Troy Carter, “Zinke: Lewis wrong on energy,” Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 06/18/14, and Ryan Zinke, “THE Hagmann AND Hagmann Report 9 9 2013 0,” YouTube, 09/10/13, (47:00)]

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, opposed an EPA Superfund listing for the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company site.

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, opposed an EPA Superfund listing for the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company site, where there was “environmental contamination” near the Flathead River, “a fishery that includes the federally designated threatened bull trout and the federally sensitive westslope cutthroat trout.”

Tests of the area “detected contaminants like cyanide, fluoride, and metals, such as arsenic, chromium, lead, and selenium.” Zinke was “vocal in his opposition” to the Superfund listing and preferred “‘a plan founded on private enterprise.'” In a letter to Governor Steve Bullock, Zinke said that he opposed the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company site being placed on the Superfund National Priority List because “being listed will significantly delay…economic development.”

[Paige Sedgewick, “Contaminates found on Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. property,” NBC Montana, 04/15/14, Justin Franz, “EPA, CFAC Finalize Agreement to Study Aluminum Plant Contamination,” Flathead Beacon, 11/30/15, Sam Wilson, “Superfund Listing Proposed for Aluminum Plant,” Daily Inter Lake, 03/24/15, and Ryan Zinke to Steve Bullock, 03/04/15]

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, cosponsored a bill to “limit presidential monuments to 5,000 acres or less,” ban them in parts of the West, and prohibit a president from designating or expanding a national monument without approval from “each community, county, municipality, city, town, or township with boundaries within or adjacent to the land affected by the designation,” as well as approval from “the wildlife management and land management authorities and the governor of each state.”  Opponents said the bill would “require an unattainable level of public input and local approval conditions for the establishment of new national monuments.”

Ryan Zinke, on November 5, 2015, became an original cosponsor of H.R. 3946, which was a bill to prohibit a president from designating or expanding a national monument “unless within one year before a designation the Department of the Interior consults with each community, county, municipality, city, town, or township with boundaries within or adjacent to the land affected by the designation” and obtains “concurrence for the designation from the governing body” in each municipality.  The Department of the Interior would also need to gain concurrence from “the wildlife management and land management authorities and the governor of each state.” The bill would “require property owners to consent to monument designations if their land would be surrounded by monument land,” and “would bar a new monument where local residents opposed it.” It “would limit presidential monuments to 5,000 acres or less.” The bill would also prohibit “national monument designations within 18 western counties.”

The bill’s sponsor, Representative Paul Gosar, said that people living near national monuments “‘deserve to have a strong voice regarding the use of public land near their communities,'” but opponents say the bill would “require an unattainable level of public input and local approval conditions for the establishment of new national monuments.”  [Shaun McKinnon, “What’s rocking Sedona? A red rock monument, Obama, and a fistfightThe Republic, 12/9/15, Jenny Rowland, “Center for American Progress  | The Rise to Power of the Congressional Anti-parks Caucus The Rise to Power of the Congressional Anti-parks Caucus,” Center for American Progress, 04/11/16]

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, co-signed a letter in opposition to creating the Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument, arguing that a national monument designation would be “locking these lands away from public access” and would “be a step backwards.”  

On February 18, 2015, Ryan Zinke and 24 other members of Congress sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking that he not use “an Executive Order to declare the Grand Canyon Watershed a National Monument,” arguing that the two million acres inside the Grand Canyon Watershed were “already managed with great success through cooperation between federal and state agencies” and that these lands did not “need the additional layer of bureaucracy and restrictions that a National Monument designation would bring.”  They argued that a national monument designation would be “locking these lands away from public access” and would “be a step backwards.” [Letter to President Barack Obama, 02/18/15]

In November 2015, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission wrote to Ryan Zinke and asked him to oppose H.R. 974, the Yellowstone and Grand Teton Paddling Act. This legislation would allow “for the use of hand propelled vessels, such as canoes and kayaks, in sections of streams and rivers that flow through Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.” Zinke responded to their letter saying that he supported H.R. 974 because “we must consider long term approaches to improve the management, accessibility, and livelihood of our parks.”

On November 12, 2015, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission wrote a letter urging Zinke to oppose H.R. 974, the Yellowstone and Grand Teton Paddling Act, legislation that would allow “for the use of hand propelled vessels, such as canoes and kayaks, in sections of streams and rivers that flow through Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.” The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission was “very concerned this bill would lift existing protections and policies on hand-propelled vessels in most of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks – where existing management practices balance recreation and conservation.” The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission was concerned that the legislation, by profoundly changing “the management of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park’s waterways” and requiring the National Park Service to “develop new regulations,” would add to the “extreme financial Pressure” the National Park Service is currently facing. The agency was also concerned that the legislation would “adversely impact the last sanctuary of Yellowstone Cutthroat in the world.”

On December 01, 2015, Zinke wrote a response to the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission. In his letter, Zinke said that he supported H.R. 974 because he believes “recreation and conservation efforts can and should go hand in hand” and “as we look to improve opportunities on our national lands, we must consider long term approaches to improve the management, accessibility, and livelihood of our parks.” [Pages 10-11, MFWP FOIA Response, 11/12/15 and Page 9, MFWP FOIA Response, 12/01/15]  

Ryan Zinke, in 2014, said he supported a bill that would have resulted in a “six-fold increase in timber harvest from Montana’s nine national forests.”

Congressman Steve Daines, in 2014, was a co-sponsor of H.R. 1526, which mandated “annual harvests of one-half the Forest Service’s locriminang-term sustainable yield for each national forest.” This would have been a “six-fold increase in timber harvest from Montana’s nine national forests, from 62.5 million board feet cut in 2012 to a regular production of 380.5 million board feet.”  Critics of the measure said the bill “would gut the National Forest Management Act.” [Rob Chaney, “Daines’ plan calls for six-fold increase in Montana logging,” The Missoulian, 09/29/13]

Ryan Zinke supported “Rep. Daines’ legislation to increase timber harvest.” [Tom Kuglin, “Transferring federal lands to Montana: Political theater or a viable option?,” Helena Independent Record, 08/31/14]

In 2015, Ryan Zinke pushed “a forest management rider” that would allow “the Forest Service to limit its analysis of logging projects” and “allow logging projects of 3,000 acres or less to skip some environmental review.”

In 2015 Ryan Zinke pushed “a forest management rider” to “an omnibus budget bill” that “would have allowed the Forest Service to limit its analysis of logging projects to only the proposed version or no action [instead of looking at multiple options of varying sizes], and allow logging projects of 3,000 acres or less to skip some environmental review through ‘categorical analysis’ if they’re supported by collaborative groups.” [Rob Chaney, “Logging rider sinks fire-borrowing fix; LWCF makes it into omnibus spending bill,The Missoulian, 12/16/15]

Ryan Zinke was an author of and voted in committee for legislation to “increase timber production on U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands” and “speed environmental reviews” for some logging plans to make it more difficult for opponents to file lawsuits against the Forest Service.

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, “partly authored” and voted in committee for H.R. 2647, which was legislation to “allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to transfer funds to the Forest Service to fight wildfires” and speed “environmental reviews for logging plans of up to 15,000 acres developed by consensus-building groups.”  It would modify “federal forest management practices to increase timber production on U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management [BLM] lands as a means of promoting greater forest health and reducing wildfires.” The bill would also provide “for expedited actions by federal agencies by expanding the types of forestry activities that can occur without environmental impact statements and by accelerating environmental reviews for salvage operations and reforestation activities after catastrophic events.”  The legislation included provisions to create “certain instances where plaintiffs who bring a lawsuit against the Forest Service would not be able to recover attorney’s fees if successful and would be liable to cover the Forest Service’s legal fees if the suit is not successful.”  

Environmental groups have said the legislation “amounts to another effort by the timber industry and its allies to run roughshod over environmental laws.”  The legislation passed out of committee 22 to 15, with 15 Democrats voting against it. [House Natural Resources Committee, 06/11/15, Eastern Arizona Courier, 07/16/15, Congressional Quarterly’s House Action Reports, 07/06/15, Rob Chaney, “House passes forest management bill co-authored by Zinke,” The Missoulian, 07/9/15 and Jeff Mapes, “Is a deal on federal timber policy in the offing? House GOP hopes so as it passes new logging bill,” The Oregonian, 07/9/15]

Ryan Zinke, in 2014, released a “land management plan” that called “for expanding access to public roads for snowmobiles and recreational off-highway vehicles.”

“In his federal land management plan released Oct. 15 [2014], Republican U.S. House candidate Ryan Zinke, of Whitefish, called for better coordination between federal agencies and counties in decisions that affect access to public lands.  His plan directs federal agencies to take land-management actions that benefit fishing, shooting sports and outdoor recreation.”

Additionally, “Zinke’s plan also calls for expanding access to public roads for snowmobiles and recreational off-highway vehicles.  He said he wants to address abuse of federal laws such as the Endangered Species Act and opposes expanding habitat for grizzly bears and sage grouse without scientific evidence that it will improve populations.” [“Candidates don’t support land transfer,” Hungry Horse News, 10/22/14]

Ryan Zinke, in a 2016 letter, said he supported the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s “efforts to acquire the 5,350 acre Dome Mountain Ranch in Park County, Montana” because the acquisition would help “wildlife range continuity” and because “the economic benefits of protecting the land under the state of Montana’s management are enormous.”

On November 10, 2016, Zinke wrote a letter to David Allen, President and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, saying that he supported the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s “efforts to acquire the 5,350 acre Dome Mountain Ranch in Park County, Montana.” The land that would be acquired would later be “conveyed to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and join the existing Dome Mountain Wildlife Management Area.” Zinke supported this effort because it helped “wildlife range continuity” and because “the economic benefits of protecting the land under the state of Montana’s management are enormous.” [Page 44, MFWP FOIA Response, 11/10/16]

Ryan Zinke voted to “dramatically restrict the government’s ability to enact any significant new regulations or safety standards, potentially hamstringing the efforts of every federal agency, from financial regulators to safety watchdogs.”

In 2015 Ryan Zinke voted to “dramatically restrict the government’s ability to enact any significant new regulations or safety standards, potentially hamstringing the efforts of every federal agency, from financial regulators to safety watchdogs.”  The bill would make “just about every step an agency takes on a major new rule subject to numerous legal challenges.” The bill defined “major rules” as those “that have direct costs of more than $100 million or indirect costs above $1 billion, or would have significant costs for just about anyone, including government.” For any such rule, “agencies must make public their cost-benefit analyses of the new regulation and choose the cheapest option.” [Michael Mcauliff, “House Tries To Stop All New Government Rules,” The Huffington Post, 01/14/15]

Ryan Zinke implied that he supports “proposals to cut Medicare and Social Security funding and partially privatize the programs,” and voted in support of privatizing Medicare.

When someone said to Ryan Zinke in 2015 “that he was alarmed by Republican budget proposals to cut Medicare and Social Security funding and partially privatize the programs,” Zinke responded by saying “that cutting all defense spending, taxing the richest 1 percent and other Democratic proposals would not provide a fix to the country’s growing debt.”  [Daily Inter Lake, 04/02/15]

Ryan Zinke, on April 14, 2015, voted against a motion to instruct the House to agree with the Senate in favoring paid sick leave and preventing “Medicare from being turned into a voucher program.” [House Vote 153, S.Con.Res.11, 04/14/15; Rachel Bade, “Democrats want more tough budget votes for GOP,” Politico, 04/14/18]

Ryan Zinke thinks Planned Parenthood is “horrific.”

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, said there needs to be “an independent investigation” of Planned Parenthood because the organization is “horrific.”  [“Representative Ryan Zinke Open Phones July 31,” Newstalk KVGO via YouTube, 08/05/15 (12:00)]

The Secretary of the Interior has enormous responsibility when it comes to law enforcement, yet Ryan Zinke has voted against increasing funding for sexual assault victims’ assistance and programs for missing and exploited children.

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, voted against recommitting H.R. 2578 to add “$3 million for sexual assault victims’ assistance …and an additional $3 million for missing and exploited children programs,” with the funding offset by decreasing “funding for the Justice Information Technology Account by $6 million.”  [House of Representatives Vote 296, 2015, and Congressional Quarterly, 06/03/15]

Ryan Zinke thinks the EPA is run like a criminal operation.

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, said allowing EPA to regulate water and flood plains is “kind of like handing over the keys to a criminal – of your car.  It’s just not a good idea because you never know where that car is going to go. This administration has had a number of issues that have been overreach.”  [“Talk Back With Congressman Ryan Zinke and UM Law Proffessor Jeff Renz,” Newstalk KVGO, 09/08/13, (03:00)]

Ryan Zinke, in his written responses to questions asked by senators during the confirmation process, said “I believe that the impacts of climate change are uncertain and that we have not yet determined the best way or ways to address it,” and while “climate is changing” and “man is an influence,” there’s debate on “what that influence is” and “what can we do about it.”

Zinke said, “I believe that the impacts of climate change are uncertain and that we have not yet determined the best way or ways to address it.” [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Questionnaire, Ryan Zinke, 01/17/17]

Zinke said one of the three tenants of climate change was that it was being caused by man. [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Ryan Zinke Hearing, 01/17/17]

Zinke said, “So, climate is changing; man is an influence. I think where there’s debate on it is what that influence is; what can we do about it.” [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Ryan Zinke Hearing, 01/17/17]

Ryan Zinke, in his written responses to questions asked by senators during the confirmation process, did not give a straight yes or no answer when he was asked if he would support “continued climate change research and education” at the Department of the Interior’s eight Climate Science Centers.

When asked by Senator Ron Wyden if he would “support the continued climate change research and education” at the Department of Interior’s eight Climate Science Centers, Zinke did not give a straight yes or no answer but said, “I value and support collaboration with public and private research institutions. As mentioned at the confirmation hearing, I believe that programs are most effective when they operate according to “clear and precise” goals. I look forward to a complete review of the eight DOI Climate Science Centers and their results over the past six years as we develop an agenda for moving forward.” [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Questionnaire, Ryan Zinke, 01/17/17]

Ryan Zinke, in 2016, co-signed a letter to the EPA expressing support for continued use of atrazine, which is a weed killer that has been “linked to cancer and birth defects.”  The authors argued that it would be “irresponsible” to “greatly restrict” atrazine.

Ryan Zinke, on November 1, 2016, co-signed a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency that expressed concern with the EPA’s “draft ecological risk assessment on atrazine.”  The authors of the letter argued that it would be “irresponsible” to “greatly restrict” atrazine, and claimed that the “EPA’s draft ecological risk assessment throws [atrazine’s] future use into doubt, an outcome that, according to many, may not be scientifically justified.”  Atrazine, which is a weed killer, has been “one of the most widely used herbicides in the United States for decades,” and the letter Zinke signed claims that it “has been safely used for over fifty years.”

However, research has shown that atrazine “may be linked to cancer and birth defects.”  Experts consider atrazine “an endocrine disruptor” that has “been tied to abnormal sexual development in animals.”  The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has warned that “long-term exposure to atrazine may cause a variety of health problems, including weight loss, heart damage and muscle spasms,” after high levels of atrazine were found in Wisconsin drinking water.  Atrazine is “widely found in streams and drinking water near farms where it’s used,” and some cities “have spent millions of dollars to dilute or filter out atrazine levels from drinking water.” [Rachael Lallensack, ‘Strict’ pesticide rules fail to erase threat to Wisconsin’s drinking water,” Wisconsin Center for Journalism, 10/16/16, Associated Press,Wisconsin farm groups fight EPA on atrazine levels,” 09/13/16,   Letter from Ken Buck et. al. to Gina McCarthy, 11/1/126 and Tom Philpott, “Trump’s Climate-Denying EPA Pick Also Thinks Pesticides Are Harmless,” Slate, 11/18/16]

Ryan Zinke, in May 2015, co-signed a letter that opposed reducing ozone “from 75 parts per billion [ppb] to a range between 60 and 70 ppb,” because changing the standard levels could cause “significant economic harm to local economies” within “the intermountain western U.S. and along the U.S. border.” In July 2015, he co-signed a letter opposing the EPA’s “proposed new ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards.” The authors of the letter encouraged the EPA to “support economic growth” by “maintaining the existing 75 ppb ozone standard.”

Ryan Zinke, in May 2015, co-signed a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency opposing a November 2014 proposed rule to “tighten the existing National Ambient Air Quality Standard [NAAQS] for ozone from 75 parts per billion [ppb] to a range between 60 and 70 ppb.” Zinke and other members of Congress claimed that the new proposed levels “would be unachievable for many states with already high levels of background ozone” and that changing the standard levels could cause “significant economic harm to local economies” within “the intermountain western U.S. and along the U.S. border.” [Mia Love et. al. to Gina McCarthy, 05/19/15]

In her June 2015 response to Ryan Zinke, Janet McCabe of the Environmental Protection Agency disputed the claim that the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards [NAAQS] proposed rule would negatively impact the economy, saying that the “great progress in improving air quality and public health in the United States” that the EPA had made had not come “at the expense” of the economy. McCabe continued, “over the past 40 years, air pollution has decreased by nearly 70 percent while the economy has tripled.” [Janet McCabe to Ryan Zinke, 06/17/15]

In July 2015, Ryan Zinke co-signed a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency opposing “proposed new ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards.” Zinke and other members of Congress claimed that the “air is cleaner today than it has been in thirty years” and in their letter they encouraged the EPA to “support economic growth” by “maintaining the existing 75 ppb ozone standard.” They also claimed that “EPA is just now providing states with guidance to implement the 2008 standard, and the state-federal clean air partnership should be allowed an opportunity to work” before the EPA implemented new standards. [Robert Latta et. al. to Gina McCarthy, 07/28/15]

After the Supreme Court stayed the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, Ryan Zinke, in 2016, co-signed a letter that accused EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy of trying to undermine its ruling.

Ryan Zinke, in June 2016, co-signed a letter regarding “the Supreme Court’s orders granting applications from states and stakeholders to stay the ‘Clean Power Plan.'” In their letter, they expressed concern that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy had made statements that, they claimed, “undermine[d] the certainty that the American people deserve and the Supreme Court was seeking to provide when it granted… stay to the CPP and toll its deadlines.” [John Ratcliffe et. al. to Gina McCarthy, 06/23/16]

In 2014, Ryan Zinke co-signed a letter to the EPA opposing a draft rule to “‘regulate ‘major sources’ of emissions in the ceramic tile industry.'” The authors of the letter claimed that there were “no major sources of air emissions in the ceramic tile industry.”

In July 2014, Ryan Zinke co-signed a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency opposing a draft rule to “‘regulate ‘major sources’ of emissions in the ceramic tile industry.'” Zinke and other members of Congress claimed that the regulation was “needless” because there were “no major sources of air emissions in the ceramic tile industry.” [James Inhofe et. al. to Gina McCarthy, 07/14/14]

In April 2016, Ryan Zinke, along with other members of Congress, sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency expressing “extreme concern” that the EPA funded “propaganda, advocacy, and lobbying efforts” through a website called “whatsupstream. com.” The website encouraged visitors to “‘take action'” by encouraging Washington state legislators to support “stronger laws” protecting the health of water resources.

Ryan Zinke, in April 2016, co-signed a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency expressing “extreme concern” that the EPA funded a “website and campaign” called “whatsupstream.com.” The authors of the letter claimed that the EPA was “funding propaganda, advocacy, and lobbying efforts” because the EPA funded a website that “ha[d] a button at the top of its site directing visitors to ‘take action'” by encouraging Washington State legislators to support “‘stronger laws protecting the health of our water resources in Washington'” and a specific policy for “‘100-foot natural buffers between agriculture lands and streams.'” [Dan Newhouse et. al. to Gina McCarthy, 04/20/16]

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, praised Vladimir Putin. On Russia trying to help Donald Trump win the presidential election, Ryan Zinke said, “I think that’s folly,” before asking “what’s the motive?” He went on to say, if a foreign country “hacks us…we have to immediately retaliate.”

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, said in reference to battling ISIS in Syria, “‘Putin drops bombs.  We drop leaflets.'” [Kristina Wong, “Navy SEAL congressman volunteers for Wreaths Across America,” The Hill, 12/13/15]

On Russia trying to help Donald Trump win the presidential election, Ryan Zinke said, “I think that’s folly.  At the end of the day, what’s the motive?” He added, “if someone hacks us, especially a foreign country, we have to immediately retaliate.”  [“Catch Ryan on Fox and Friends 12/13/16” Congressman Ryan Zinke (MT) via YouTube, (2:43)]

Ryan Zinke, in 2013, said he knows people who have “witnessed a lot of voter fraud.”  He believes “that’s probably the case across the country.” Zinke continued, “I know in my home state, during the senatorial election, there was a lot of voter fraud.  There were people that voted that were not alive.” He also thinks Barack Obama was elected with the help of “tomfoolery.”

Ryan Zinke, in 2013, said, “I just came back from Santa Barbara with the Republican women there that went down to a local university and witnessed a lot of voter fraud, and I have to believe that’s probably the case across the country.  I know in my home state, during the senatorial election, there was a lot of voter fraud. There were people that voted that were not alive.” [[“The Hagmann and Hagmann Report” The Official Hagmann Report, 09/08/13, (1:20:00)]]

Zinke continued, “we voted Obama in, and I think there was some tomfoolery, but not to the [same] scale.”  [“The Hagmann and Hagmann Report” The Official Hagmann Report, 09/08/13, (1:35:00)]

Ryan Zinke opposed raising both federal and state minimum wages.

During his 2014 campaign for the U.S. House, Zinke said he opposed “Obama’s proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from the…$7.25 rate.”  He said he would rather “leave it up to states to set their minimum wages based on the local economy.” [ Charles S. Johnson, Congressional Hopeful Zinke Calls For Rebuilding America,” Helena Independent Record, 04/24/14]

In 2008 Zinke also opposed increasing the state minimum wage. [“Ryan Zinke’s Issue Positions,” Vote Smart, accessed 07/16/18]

Ryan Zinke opposed the Department of the Interior raising “the minimum wage and overtime pay requirement for federal contractors.”  He co-signed a letter calling such a raise “ill-advised.”

Executive Order 13658 “sharply raised the minimum wage and overtime pay requirement for federal contractors, most of whom are paid by the federal government to provide equipment and services to various federal agencies.”  Section 110 of the Consolidated Appropriations of 2016 prohibited the “Department of Labor from using funds to implement, administer and enforce E.O. 13658 on federal contracts and permits authorizing seasonal recreation services or seasonal recreational equipment rental,” because “federal permit holders, including outfitters and guides who operate on public lands, are in a very different situation – they do not fit the traditional definition of a contractor.  Instead of being paid by an agency to perform a service, they pay the agencies. Their connection to the federal government is the permit they require to operate on federal lands. The higher costs associated with E.O. 13658 will have to be paid by the public, which will cause many of the guides and outfitters to either go out of business or simply not operate on public lands.”

Ryan Zinke, on March 29, 2016, was one of a dozen members of Congress who said in a letter to the Department of the Interior that any attempt “by the Department of Interior to skirt Congressional intent” and go forward in implementing this executive order would be “ill-advised.”  [Letter to the Department of the Interior, 03/29/16]

Ryan Zinke believes that “marriage is between one man and one woman.”  He also said he does not support “the adoption of children by same-sex couples.”

In 2015 Ryan Zinke posted on Facebook, the Supreme Court undermined religious freedom and usurped “the rights of Montana and several other states that have chosen to define marriage within their states.  While I believe marriage is between one man and one woman, I urge all Americans to treat each other with dignity, compassion and respect.” [“Ryan Zinke’s Issue Positions,” Vote Smart, accessed 07/16/18]

On the 2008 Political Courage Test administered by Project Vote Smart Ryan Zinke wrote, “I do not support same sex marriages or the adoption of children by same-sex couples.”   [“Ryan Zinke’s Issue Positions,” Vote Smart, accessed 07/16/18]

Ryan Zinke believes background checks for gun sales are “prudent and necessary” and that military weapons should be illegal.

On the 2008 Vote Smart Political Courage Test Ryan Zinke wrote that he believes “that background checks are prudent and necessary” and that he believes “that the sale of heavy weapons and specialized military weapon systems should be banned for public use.”  [“Ryan Zinke’s Issue Positions,” Vote Smart, accessed 07/16/18]

Ryan Zinke, in 2011, signed an amicus brief in support of a law to exempt “any gun manufactured and kept” within the state of Montana “from federal regulations.”

Ryan Zinke and 29 other Montana legislators, in 2011, signed an amicus brief in support of the Montana Firearms Freedom Act, which exempted “any gun manufactured and kept” within Montana “from federal regulations.”  In 2009 “a coalition of gun rights groups” filed a lawsuit as a “test case to see whether the Montana Firearms Freedom Act stands up to federal law.”  [New York Times, 09/04/13, NPR, 04/12/10, and Montana Shooting Sports Association, et al v. Holder, Case No. 10-36094]

Ryan Zinke, in 2015, “warned against” increased regulations for offshore drilling.

Ryan Zinke “warned against” increased regulations for offshore drilling.  He said, “‘what we’re going to do is create another layer of government…and yet another layer of expertise, more bodies, more personnel, and pretty soon you have bird-watchers watching bird-watchers.'”  [The Advocate, 04/21/15]

Ryan Zinke, in 2014, said a political opponent “plays guitar,” but “I waterboard people.”

Ryan Zinke, at a debate against his Democratic opponent in his 2014 congressional race, said, “‘John plays guitar,'” and “‘I waterboard people.'”  In a later email Zinke said “the comment was simply a joke,” although he “acknowledged that waterboarding was part of his training.” [Alan Zarembo, “Does Being a Veteran Help Candidates? A Montana Politician Hopes SoThe Los Angeles Times, 08/24/14]