Is Ryan Zinke Still Working for Neil Livingstone?

While it’s unlikely anyone in the media will ask Ryan Zinke why he ran as Neil Livingstone’s running mate in 2012, given Livingstone’s penchant for making claims about waterboarding and prostitution, reporters might want to ask themselves why Zinke and Livingstone are still so closely connected to each other.

Last week, after Mr. Zinke’s terribly convincing departure from his personal Super PAC Special Operations for America, the organization named a new chairman, Gary Stubblefield.

Interestingly enough, it seems Mr. Stubblefield is doing two jobs, as he is listed as the “Executive Vice President, Risk Management” for Neil Livingstone’s Executive Action, LLC. You might recall that, according to reporting from Tim Murphy at Mother Jones, Executive Action is an incredibly shady company involved in doing work for both the families of dictators and a terrorist organization:

Although he refrains from speaking publicly about his clients, a 2007 lawsuit initiated by GlobalOptions revealed that his new firm represented the daughter of Uzbekistan dictator Islam Karimov, as well as the family of Viacom mogul Sumner Redstone. Through Executive Action, Livingstone sponsored a panel to boost the MEK, an Iranian dissident group—and alleged cult—that the US considers a terrorist organization. “There are a few cultlike aspects to them,” he told The New Yorker’s Connie Bruck, “but I like them because they bug Iran.”

Maybe Zinke only has three friends, or perhaps he’s just a little too closely linked to people like Neil Livingstone. Given that Special Operations for America has largely operated as a piggy bank for Zinke and his friends, it will be interesting to see if any money flowed towards Executive Action, LLC in the past year.

In his nascent campaign, Zinke repeatedly refers to the idea of trust. I wonder exactly how Montana voters are supposed to trust someone who’s not only been willing to run with perhaps the looniest candidate in recent Montana history, but who continues to have a relationship with him and his organization.

And there’s more to come…

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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