Ryan Zinke
Montana Politics Ryan Zinke

Zinke’s SOFA House Looks Like a Front to Me

In the series of ethical violations that have plagued the Zinke campaign, it’s easy to forget some of the details, but one that has always stayed with me was the transparent nature of the coordination between his Special Operations for America Super PAC and his campaign. The Huffington Post ran a story showing that until after Zinke declared his candidacy for the US House race, the Super PAC’s physical address was across the street from Zinke’s house, in a property he owned.

Well, a tipster from the Flathead area sent me a video demonstrating that the Zinke house he claimed was the office for Special Operations for America was anything but, and instead was a hollowed-out shell of a building, complete with Ryan Zinke campaign signs in the backyard.

It’s clear that Zinke’s personal SuperPAC was never physically located at the address he claimed on his FEC reports, but that he used a different address from his own to hide his association with the group. While the kind of work that the SOFA SuperPAC was engaged in should be familiar to Montanans who remember finding campaign documents inside a meth house  we certainly should be able to expect better from a candidate for the US House.

Just not this candidate.


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  • Don, I thought you would be interested in reading the findings of Zinke’s recently released fitness reports you have been so adamantly demanding. Here are the highlights from a few of Montana’s newspapers.

    From the Billings Gazette

    “……his June 1999 fitness report comments includes such descriptions of Zinke’s performance such as
    “(d)ynamic decisive and intelligent. Excels at the most complex taskings and assignments.”
    It says he provided “outstanding operational and fiduciary oversight for over 200 command high-risk training events while managing an annual O&M (operations and maintenance) budget in excel of $10 (million).”
    It said Zinke was singled out for “a nothing short of spectacular performance.”
    Zinke was recommended for early promotion in the fitness report. It also recommended that he attend the Navy War College.”

    “…..after the June 1999 fitness report, he later was promoted to be an executive officer and later a commander, selected to be a mission commander in Kosovo, selected to be a deputy and acting commander over special forces in Iraq, and later was officer in charge of SEAL advanced training and then chose to retire. He received two Bronze Stars and four Meritorious Service medals.”


    From the Missoulian

    “It was filled with praise for Zinke that included: “(h)igh-energy, results oriented officer.” It was written by a different superior officer who said he had had four executive officers in two command tours and Zinke is moving to the top of the list.”

    It concluded by calling Zinke “a savvy, experienced war-fighter proving equally adept in management.” The report said Lt. Cmdr. Zinke “has my complete trust and confidence.” It recommended promoting Zinke to commander as soon as possible and sending him to War College.


    In a fitness report on Zinke in late July 2001, his superior officer said: “My number one CDR (commander) and ranks among the finest officers that I have served with during my 36 years of active duty. A superstar who has earned my complete trust and strongest personal recommendations for an immediate CO (commanding officer) assignment. … If you screen just one officer for command, screen CDR (Commander) Zinke. He is that good!”

    A July 2004 fitness report called Zinke a “brilliant” chief staff officer “who excels at leading the largest command in Naval Special Warfare. In my 28 years of active duty, nobody does it better or with more enthusiasm, integrity and courageous leadership. … A superstar.”

    His fitness reports both before the June 1999 report and after it until he retired were filled with similar praise.”

    Thank you for keeping this issue in front of Montana voters, Don. You have helped voters know the truth about the opinions his fellow officers and the military enthusiastically express about Zinke:

    “Integrity”, Courageous Leadership”, “A Superstar”, “Top Notch Leader”, “Brilliant”, “Dynamic decisive and intelligent”, “Spectacular Performance”, “results oriented”, “Sterling Performance as XO”, nobody does it better”, “has my complete trust and confidence”, “ranks among the finest officers”, “WILL EXCEL IN COMMAND”.

    Your efforts have helped Zinke pick up a fortune in positive earned media and has left Lewis noticeably silent.

    FYI, the new Gravis Poll is out Zinke 53% – Lewis 41%.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, 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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