Did Ryan Zinke Violate Federal Law as Secretary of the Interior?

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Sweetheart Deals. Closed-door meetings. “No comment” as the go-to answer. Quid pro quo’s up the yin-yang. Apologizing to people who have abandoned dangerous and damaging activities while leaving Montanans with the bill.

This is the way Ryan Zinke operates at the interior. Self-dealing was his MO as a congressman, his self-dealing as Secretary of the Interior has ramped up exponentially as it now involves cronyism, the appearance of corruption and now possibly illegal campaign activities while he is working on the taxpayer dime.

Zinke has had a Hatch Act complaint filed against him by the American Democracy Legal Fund:

The American Democracy Legal Fund (ADLF) has filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel requesting an investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for using his official position and government resources to partake in political activity in order to aid Governor Rick Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign.

Five days after announcing a plan to expand offshore drilling off of much of the US Coast, Secretary Zinke announced in a stunning reversal that he would remove Florida from the list. Reporting in Politico revealed that Zinke’s announcement was “choreographed” to give Scott’s campaign a valuable public relations boost for his campaign for U.S. Senate. Government records show that Florida’s exemption from offshore drilling was a political ploy decided in a series of behind-the-scenes actions between Zinke and Scott.

“Ryan Zinke used his official office to help Rick Scott’s political career by arbitrarily twisting his own shortsighted policies to score partisan points. This abuse of his office and taxpayer dollars for a partisan political purpose is a clear violation of the Hatch Act and must be investigated immediately,” said Brad Woodhouse of ADLF.

This is how a nation steps away from democracy to an authoritarian state. Civil servants, such as Zinke, are forbidden by the Hatch Act from participating in partisan political activities while on the clock for the taxpayer. It is the appearance of corruption that is nearly as damaging to citizen’s trust in government as the actual corruption. Though it seems corruption and the appearance of corruption do not bother Zinke.

He has no concern for what he does on the clock for the taxpayer. His spokespeople either say the media is out to get him or they don’t respond. They never have anything of value to say. It is a wonder they receive a paycheck at all when they could merely set an away message as a response to any inquiry that says “no comment.”

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