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Ryan Zinke US Politics

Ryan Zinke: keeping it classy

After his fall from grace at the Department of the Interior, Ryan Zinke landed on his feet in the private sector. The investment firm with the dubious name of Artillery One has hired Zinke as managing director.

CEO Daniel Cannon claims Zinke’s “expertise in the energy and technology sectors” will help expand the business.

Granted, Zinke has certainly spent a lot of time with oil and gas executives during his days at DOI, but technology? I’m not sure Zinke could download an app on his smartphone, which makes for an interesting hire since much of Artillery One’s focus is “blockchain technology.”

Blockchain is defined as “a digital ledger and database technology commonly used for cryptocurriencies such as bitcoin.”

(Fun fact courtesy Harper’s Magazine — Factor by which more energy is required to mine a dollar’s worth of bitcoin than a dollar’s worth of copper: 4.25.)

Cannon, Zinke’s new boss, has a shady past, according to The Daily Beast:

On April 20, 2018, Ryan Zinke was returning to Washington from an environmental conference in Texas. During the first leg of the trip, on a flight from Dallas to Atlanta, the then-Interior Secretary had an auspicious seatmate, an investor with a checkered legal past and a new company focused on blockchain technology.

The “checkered legal past” includes a couple drug arrests, churning (conducting excessive trades in order to collect additional fees) and a $1.6 million federal tax lien dating from 2001.

What’s more worrisome is this quote from a press release:

Cannon and Zinke “will continue to follow the vision of President Donald J. Trump in Making America Great Again, by bringing economic development, jobs and opportunities for people, at home and internationally.”

It would seem like hiring a former cabinet member would raise the profile of an investment firm and distract from the sketchy past of the CEO, but Zinke has some ethics issues of his own.

It must be Zinke’s experience in Congress and the administration that piqued Cannon’s interest. The former interior secretary, Cannon told The Daily Beast, will provide “analysis” of pending legislation and regulatory requirements and receive “C level executive compensation” for that work.

(I had to look up “C level executive compensation.” ‘C’ is for Chief as in CEO or COO or CFO. Should make for a nice paycheck.)

But there might be some limitations as to where Zinke can operate, according to The Hill:

Under President Trump’s ethics pledge for administration officials, Zinke cannot lobby on Interior Department matters for five years and cannot lobby Trump administration officials through the rest of the administration.

However, a Trump ethics pledge is an oxymoron if ever there was one, so that shouldn’t be a big problem.

I hope someone is tracking Zinke and Artillery One. There’s very little information on the firm except for an occasional summit on blockchain technology, the next one being held in Palm Beach, Florida, at a cost of $2,000 a head to attend.

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.

About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.


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  • This is just too weird. I would have expected Zinke to hanging out with a coal mining company, or something, after he finished “draining the swamp,” but Artillery One? A company that is basically invisible, except for a few mentions about blockchain technology? Maybe it makes sense, though, if you think about how blockchain technology is commonly used on the Dark Web to move money around for illegal puproses. Maybe Zinke became an expert on that while we weren’t looking.

  • KPAX said Zinke would be working from his home in Whitefish and California. I wonder if his office in California is near his “home” there.

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