Ryan Zinke Would Rather Fire 4,000 People than Fly Coach

In June, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke advocated for slashing his department’s funding by up to $11.7 billion, which could eliminate 4,000 jobs. Sec. Zinke told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that he was “looking at appropriately moving assets to where they should be.”

So tell us Secretary, what is the appropriate place for assets in the Department of the Interior? Is it “appropriate” to advocate firing 4,000 people while jet-setting around to fundraisers on the taxpayers’ dime?

Zinke has not just been slammed for attending political fundraisers while traveling for official business. He has also received criticism in the last few weeks for wasting taxpayer dollars on unnecessary private and military flights.

The Billings Gazette Editorial Board said it well: “Apparently, spending more than $12,000 to jet home to Montana to spend the night is no big deal to Zinke who, in his brief time in Congress as the Treasure State’s lone representative, railed against government waste and excess spending. A federal government that can’t seem to find enough money for healthcare or education or roads can somehow find enough money for private jets for Zinke.”

Republicans like Zinke love nothing more than slamming Democrats for overspending. Isn’t it ironic that members of the party of “fiscal responsibility” and “cutting government waste” are burning through your tax dollars with extravagant private flights across the country? Here’s the deal: Zinke is supposed to be standing up for our public lands and national monuments and working for the taxpayers to keep these places for all of us, but instead he is burning through our money without regard.

At the end of the day, we Montanans have a message for Zinke: these aren’t the Montana values you grew up with, and they aren’t the fiscally conservative values that you say you have.

Also, let’s be clear, flying coach on a small plane (and seeing all of your friends and neighbors) is just how we do things in Montana – maybe Zinke has been in Washington too long to remember that.

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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Nathan Kosted


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  • Bill, Jewell’s chartered flights covered an almost four year tenure. Zinke’s flights occurred in under ten months, and we don’t know the total cost of Zinke’s flights since he hasn’t released the Virgin Islands or Alaska flight figures. Also, Jewell didn’t charter a plane after speaking to a major campaign contributor’s hockey team (as did Zinke). Her chartered flights appear to be related to official business. Zinke’s, not so much.

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