Ryan Zinke’s overzealous desire for power has been obvious since his quixotic run for Lt. Governor in 2012. In that campaign he signed the Montana Constitutional Governance Pledge that calls for turning federal land over to the states so they can sell off public lands to the highest bidder. Deep down, this is what Ryan Zinke believes. But when he was accused of these beliefs during his 2014 campaign for Congress, he dismissed them as fake news and that the media was “blatantly distorting” his record.
Immediately after Zinke was elected to Congress, he started the rumor he might run to be the next Speaker of the House. Ambition is one thing, but too much ambition becomes narcissism. Right then we should have known the problem we had on our hands. Then in 2016, Zinke immediately jumps on the Trump train and was always available to Fox News for comment. Oddly enough, he was less available to his constituents to answer their questions about what Zinke wanted to do for Montana. It turns out—not much.
The fact is, his naked ambition has never served Montana’s interests. That’s why he’s been such a perfect Trump comrade— being selfish instead of serving Montana. He’s a yes man for anything that furthers his move up the political ladder. He’s never had loyalty to anyone but himself and Trump, and maybe not even Trump. Zinke is more than willing to sell out Montanans, Native Americans, and the West to pad his own pocket.
Following orders is something every good soldier should aspire to, but following the orders of Donald J. Trump over the wishes of Montanans and public lands advocates everywhere is not an order he should take.
The destruction of our public lands, through Zinke’s possibly illegal shrinking of four National Monuments, is not only making money for himself and his rich donors, he is promoting himself to the natural resource industry and billionaire corporations.
Another theme throughout Ryan Zinke’s career and one of his biggest problems has been his misappropriation of resources. His military career came to a disgraceful end after his unauthorized travel and misuse of taxpayer dollars. It seems that Secretary Zinke did not learn his lesson about not abusing taxpayer funds and has continued his misappropriation of taxpayer dollars as Secretary of the Interior. He has scheduled numerous expensive private plane and helicopter junkets at the expense of hardworking Montanans and Americans.
The newest misuse of government funds has caused a firestorm of response in Montana. This summer, Zinke purposefully misalocated nearly $40,000 from firefighting funds while Montana burned, when questioned about this the Interior Department claimed it was a mistake even though recently released records contradict this claim.
In an expose published in Newsweek based on information gathered through Freedom of Information Act requests it has come to light that this time it wasn’t just any taxpayer dollars, these funds were specifically set aside for fighting wildfires. Even for Secretary Zinke, this is a new low.
The biggest punch in the gut is that he was using this money in his plans to gut National Monuments. The way that Secretary Zinke evaded this issue is classic Zinke. His spokesperson claimed it was a billing error when Newsweek caught them.
The Newsweek expose blows holes in the story of Secretary Zinke’s spokesperson:
The secretary did not visit any fire zones that day, according to internal emails obtained by Newsweek.
But after Newsweek questioned the line item, an Interior Department spokeswoman said this week that the chopper—listed in an accounting of Zinke’s travel as costing $39,295—“was charged to the account in error.” She added that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would pay for the helicopter from “a more appropriate account.”
The evidence clearly shows that they tried to specifically use these funds for these purposes. While Montana was burning and could have used these funds or Zinke’s advocacy on our behalf.
Another chapter of failed leadership and misappropriation of taxpayer dollars for travel by Secretary Zinke.
All of these expenses are now under investigation, but there should also be an investigation of his use of funds while serving as Montana’s lone congressman and a state legislator. This a clearly a cyclical pattern of narcissism and entitlement by Ryan Zinke, that should be looked into. It’s not like he just stopped spending taxpayer money like a sailor, or Seal, when he was elected to office, quite the contrary.