Heather Swift, the former spokeswoman for disgraced former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is under new scrutiny after recent reports of her interference in Freedom of Information Act requests while at the Interior Department.
According to Roll Call, it has come to light that under Zinke, it was made standard practice for political appointees like Swift to review requested documents before they were released, sometimes withholding information she deemed unnecessary or “non-responsive.”
In one example given in the article, after an information official had identified 96 pages of documents that would be released to fill a FOIA request, Swift stepped in and asked that additional political staff be included in the decision. In the end, over protestations from career Interior employees who specialize in these requests, the final documents that were released had been reduced to only 16 pages.
Those redactions were centered around e-mails between Interior staffers and Ryan Zinke’s wife, who repeatedly came under fire to abusing resources at Interior.
In June, the Western Values Project, an environmental group critical of the Trump administration, sent a public records request to the National Park Service for emails between an official at the agency and Lolita Zinke, the former Interior secretary’s wife.
To absolutely no one’s surprise, it looks an awful lot like Zinke and his former campaign staff who followed him to Washington, D.C. were working pretty hard to restrict the flow of information to the public. And it’s hardly surprising that Swift, who boasted about inventing Zinke’s “Teddy Roosevelt brand,” was leading the charge.
What’s more, it seems the Interior Department has now expanded this policy to cover information and correspondence from former officials, like, say, Ryan Zinke. Even out of office, and in his cushy new lobbying job, Zinke is still trying to hide from Montanans.
Ryan Zinke rode in on a horse promising to drain the D.C. swamp, but his tarnished legacy is that of just another grifting opportunist who used his time in D.C. to enrich himself and undermine democratic norms.