Montana Politics Ryan Zinke

Someone Needs to Explain Why I am Paying Ryan Zinke and His Staff

The media got around this week to covering the worst-kept secret in Montana politics, that our sole representative in the House, Ryan Zinke, has been absent from the job almost from the beginning of the Congressional session. After receiving a lot of flak for voting to ease the sale of public lands, our brave SEAL has retreated from his duties, going so far as to wander around the House floor as one reporter noted, “living if not his best life, at least a better life.”

Zinke has gone so far as to refuse to respond to the Montana press asking why he’s been AWOL from his duties and a number of Montanans have reported that his staff is so removed from their duties that voice mail boxes are full and calls are not returned in the Congressman’s office. This tidbit from ABC FOX today shows just how bad it’s become:

Banville also says it’s odd that the congressman has gone silent for so long but that Senator Daines has said his staff has picked up some of the work of helping constituents get basic government services.

“I certainly understand not wanting to do something that would be perceived as a conflict of interest of his future job from his current job. But he’s choosing not to vote right now. He’s choosing not to be the public face of Montana in the House of Representatives. The reason we don’t have a representative right now, it’s not that we don’t have one, he’s just choosing not to do the work,” said Banville.

That’s simply an astonishing admission. With three representatives in the entire Congress, Montana is being shortchanged, with one of our Senators picking up the slack for Congressman Zinke and his staff, who are no doubt busy polishing his knife collection or fluffing his resume for the move to Interior instead of doing the work of the people of our state.

While casting votes may not be a critical function in the House, the constituent work each member of Congress should perform, from ensuring that veterans receive care to working to nominate students to service academies, is important. It’s reprehensible that a self-proclaimed small government conservative who rails against waste and spending would continue to collect paychecks and fund his office when those tasks are not being done.

While it’s hard to say exactly how much tax money Zinke is wasting by not working, his Congressional office does not run cheaply and we’re all on the hook for those expenses while Zinke saunters around the House chambers not doing his job. Efforts to find out how much Zinke is paying his staff were unsuccessful because, as you might expect, no one answered the phone when I asked.

We’ve learned in the past few months (though not from the Montana press) that Congressman Zinke is not a man who believes in paying his debts, but it’s not unreasonable for us to expect him to do the job we’re paying him to do—or to have the decency to resign from the office so Montana can begin the process of electing his replacement.

It’s time for the Montana press to call out Congressman Zinke for his dereliction of duty and for the Congressman to, for once, put the interests of Montana ahead of his own. Wouldn’t that be the most amazing of the flip flops that have defined his career?

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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  • This is a trainwreck of a piece, subject matter aside, several issues:
    1. “as one reporter noted” – Okay a snarky tweet from a Huffington Post (not the most objective of sources) “reporter” who in his profile says “Take these posts seriously but not literally.” How about a second source?
    2. Your link to a “tidbit from ABC FOX Today” is broken so I had to look up Banvill comments on Zinke and KULR8 of Billings quotes him saying “Although Zinke is not there to vote, that doesn’t necessarily mean Montana has no representation.” That is your only objective source undermining your thesis. Daines office saying they are helping out with the constituent work is not a statement that Zinke’s office is doing none of it. In fact, you’ll often find that Senators from single member House District states, let alone the most populated house district, are often doing more constituent work than other Senators. It is also not uncommon for cabinet apointees of either party to need to scale back in preperation for confirmation hearings. Of course the easy remedy would be for the Democrats to actually allow these confirmation votes to move forward. Arguably, Zinke is maybe the best Republican alternative for the Interior post for Democrats. Could it be that behind the scenes the Montana Dems are begging for a stall to diminish the 100,000 vote popular vote deficit they suffered at the top of the ticket?
    3. You’ve had to have seen all the public outcry campaigns to jam phone lines and mail boxes to Congress. Maybe you’ve even advocated for them not realizing that every one of those calls and everyone of those e-mails was preventing a constituent in need of those services from getting through. This was my first time being duped into your click baitish, part of the problem blog. It is quite misleading to put it under any masthead including “intelligent”. Wow.

    • Nice deflection, Furious George, but here are the facts, numerically:
      1. Zinke hasn’t cast a vote since Jan. 5.
      2. His staff, while still being paid, is absent. Call any one of his field offices to confirm.
      3. Furious says, “Of course the easy remedy would be for the Democrats to actually allow these confirmation votes to move forward.” Or, perhaps, Trump could nominate people who weren’t corrupt, incompetent poltroons, allowing for a smooth confirmation process.

    • Oh, George.

      You can do better. The rest of the quote from Banville entirely undermines your sad defense of Zinke, and I acknowledge that the votes aren’t the central issue. Explain this to me, though. If Zinke and his staff aren’t troubled by the need to research votes, shouldn’t they have more time to do constituent services rather than the reverse? Shouldn’t Daines be able to pawn off some work on Zinke and his staff?

      As for your criticism of the Fuller quote, he is a Congressional reporter for Huffington Post–and Zinke’s vote percentage, which is under 20%, backs up his claim.

      Thanks for dropping by, but I think you may be misidentifying both the problem and the solution.

  • We heard zinke padded His travel account as a seal for many Years.If he did we dont need another thief.Also Sounds like he is taking money that he did not earn. does that mean your a thief

  • “The media got around this week to covering the worst-kept secret in Montana politics, that our sole representative in the House, Ryan Zinke, has been absent from the job almost from the beginning of the Congressional session.”

    You’re welcome Don.

    Zinke’s a no-show in U.S. House while waiting for cabinet confirmation


    Matthew Koehler had a bit more success.

    Executive director of the WildWest Institute in Missoula, Koehler said he started noticing in the past two or three weeks that Zinke was abstaining from House votes on issues he was following.

    He said Friday he decided to call Zinke’s office in Washington on Feb. 10 and “ask point-blank why Rep. Zinke’s not voting, to see what they would say.”

    Koehler identified himself to the woman who answered, said he’d noticed Zinke wasn’t voting the past couple of weeks, and asked why.

    “She said the Trump administration has advised us not to vote,” Koehler said.

    • Note: above 5 paragraph are direct quotes from heart of Missoulian story.

      On the very first read in the Missoulian, of the above five paragraphs with up front attribution to Matthew Koehler,
      I was grateful to the Missoulian for printing what Matthew had established.

      Matthew plus the Missoulian. One plus one equals three.

  • Why is no one tweeting Trump, I do I think some one reads them. I have a mining claim that the forrest service has me locked out. I guess if Zinke sells all the public land then we get rid of the Forrest service. Maybe the Russians will buy the land by You. also zinke wants to add big parks. so you cant hunt,prospect log, atv or mine. Its called park an walk. I heard Trump Jr likes Public Lands.I think Palin would be the better choice

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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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