Ryan Zinke

Secretary of the Interior

  • 2014 Refers to Hillary Clinton as “the real enemy” and the “Anti-Christ.” (source)(source)(source)
  • Oct 2014 Accepts, and later divests, donation money from Earl Holt III, leader of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacy group that directly influenced the church shooter Dylann Roof. (source)
  • 2015 Votes against environment protections so consistently that he scores a 3% with environmental watchdog group. (voting record) This includes substantial attacks on protection of endangered animals. (source)
  • 2016 Criticizes an Interior Department rule aimed at curbing releases of methane from oil and gas operations, doubling down on the need for projects like the Keystone XL pipeline instead. (source)
  • Oct 2016 Throws support behind ProEnglish, a hate group that advocates the abolition of foreign languages and culture in America. (source)(interview with ProEnglish)

As Secretary of the Interior

  • 8/17/17 Ends a ban on the sale of plastic water bottles at some national parks, announced in a statement that closely tracks the arguments of a campaign by the International Bottled Water Association which opposed the ban. Decision comes three weeks after Senate confirmation of David Bernhardt as deputy interior secretary, who is a former lobbyist for one of the biggest bottlers in the U.S., Nestle Waters. (WaPo)
  • 8/21/17 Halts a study of mountaintop coal mining's health effects. (WaPo)
  • 8/24/17 Asks Trump to shrink "a handful" of national monuments previously designated to protect land and water. (AP)
  • 9/28/17 Is reported that Zinke chartered a flight from Las Vegas to near his home in Montana this summer aboard a plane owned by oil-and-gas executives. (WaPo)
  • 10/4/17 The Interior Department moves to delay implementing an Obama-era rule to limit methane leaks from oil and gas drilling on federal land by 18 months. (Hill) A federal court determines that this attempt broke the law. (Hill)
  • 10/5/17 Is reported that Zinke has met with donors and political groups over half a dozen times while on department-paid trips. (Politico)
  • 10/23/17 The small firm Whitefish Energy from Zinke's home state of Montana lands Puerto Rico's biggest contract for $300 million to restore power. (WaPo)
    • The company lists only two employees and has no office. (MontanaPublicRadio)
    • 10/27/17 Is reported that Whitefish Energy's contract bars the government from reviewing labor costs or profits related to the relief efforts. (Hill)
    • 10/29/17 The governor of Puerto Rico cancels the contract. (NYT)
    • 10/30/17 The FBI investigates the decision to award the contract. (WSJ)
    • 11/12/17 Is reported that Whitefish in Puerto Rico paid linemen $63/hour while billing Puerto Rico $319/hour. (NYT)
  • 11/15/17 Announces plans to allow hunters to import trophies of endangered elephants they kill in Zimbabwe and Zambia back to the U.S. (ABC) Puts the decision on hold after overwhelming backlash. (Hill)
  • 12/12/17 Is discovered that at least one top Interior official stayed at Whitefish National Resort during a conference sponsored by oil executives. The resort is owned by Zinke. (HuffPo)
  • 12/19/17 Is reported that Zinke has made discussing climate change at his Department forbidden. (Hill)
  • 12/22/17 U.S. Department of the Interior under Ryan Zinke announces that energy companies and other businesses that accidentally kill migratory birds will no longer be criminally prosecuted. (Reuters)
  • 12/28/17 Rescinds rules on fracking which would have required that oil companies disclose the contents of the fracking fluids they pump into the ground, cover fracking fluid ponds, and establish standards for fracking wells. (PDF notice via federalregister.gov)

  • 1/15/18 Three quarters of the advisory board for the U.S. National Park Service resign, citing Zinke's unwillingness to meet with them. Nine board members in various letters also mention Zinke's rescinding of regulations which address biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change. (NPR)
  • 2/7/18 A DOI Office of Inspector General report cites an unnamed senior National Park Service official having made $32,000 in upgrades to a government-owned park housing unit in an attempt to rent it out for personal profit. (Hill)
  • 2/22/18 A government watchdog requests that the Federal Election Commission investigate Zinke's appearance at a Virgin Islands fundraiser and calls for a probe into a "pattern of violations" of federal election fundraising ethics laws. (Politico)
  • 3/9/18 Is revealed that Zinke ordered the replacement of three sets of double doors in his government office for $139,000. (AP)
  • 4/11/18 The Interior Department's Inspector General announces that it could not "independently determine whether a series of staff reassignments by Zinke complied with federal law due to poor record-keeping. (doioig.gov)
  • 4/20/18 Top Interior Department employee Vincent DeVito takes credit for delaying the endangered species designation for a species of mussel, two weeks after beginning communications with officials from the Independent Petroleum Association of America who advocated for the delay. (Guardian)
  • 5/7/18 Announces that he will send 22 U.S. park police to the U.S.-Mexico border to aid Trump's deployment of National Guard to the zone. (Hill)
  • 7/19/18 The Interior Department proposes a sweeping set of changes to the Endangered Species Act, the law that brought the bald eagle and the Yellowstone grizzly bear back from the edge of extinction. The proposed revisions make it easier for roads, pipelines and other construction projects to gain approvals. (NYT)
  • 8/2/18 Is under investigation by the Interior Department's inspector general for possibly colluding with the chairman of Halliburton to have a microbrewery built for him in Whitefish, Montana. (Politico)
  • 10/27/18 Is reported that the Interior Department is seeking to destroy records related to animals protected by statute, including proposals to help endangered species to recover and to help protect their living environments. The effort is part of a larger proposal to purge records of oil and gas leases, timber sales, dams and land purchases. (Salon)
  • 10/30/18 The Interior Department's acting inspector general refers one of three probes of Zinke's conduct to the Justice Department for further investigation, though which probe was referred was not reported. (Reuters)
  • 11/12/18 A summary of how Zinke has become a tool of big business. (TheGuardian)
  • 11/19/18 Declares in an interview with Brietbart that "it's not the time for finger-pointing" with regard to the deadly, massive wildfires in California, then minutes later attributes the wildfires to "environmental radicals." (Hill)
  • 12/15/18 Trump coerces Zinke's resignation after two years of mounting ethics investigations. Zinke faces possible jailtime even after leaving his position as secretary. (NYT)
  • 12/15/18 A guide to the federal investigations into Ryan Zinke as of December 15, 2018. (NYT)

 

  • 4/16/19 Announces that he will be serving as a board member for the Nevada gold mining company U.S. Gold Corp, a company that sought approvals from the Interior Department that he led less than four months prior. (PBS)