Whitefish, MT – Yesterday, The Houston Chronicle reported that former Secretary of the Interior and perpetually scandal-plagued Ryan Zinke announced the possibility of a triumphant return to the Trump administration in the coming year. Easing back into public life after a long winter encroached in chaos of his own making, Zinke, now a security consultant working on oil and gas issues, claimed that President Trump didn’t want him to leave and that he may or may not return at a later time.
In response to Zinke’s surprise reemergence, Executive Director of the Western Values Project Chris Saeger issued the following statement:
“It wouldn’t be that surprising if Trump brought Zinke back into the fold. His previous tenure’s only notable achievements were the number of his scandals and the record amount of public land he put at risk. But if being an incompetent, corrupt shill for the special interests was disqualifying, there would hardly be a political appointee left in this administration.”
While he served as Secretary to the Interior, Zinke became the subject of some 15 investigations and it was reported that the Trump administration had little affection for the fake cowboy. Zinke might have excelled at following marching orders, but the Trump administration ultimately determined that he was too plagued by scandals and ethical misconduct to continue.
His replacement, Interior Secretary Bernhardt, quickly followed in Zinke’s footsteps by becoming the subject of a multi-faceted investigation just four days after his Senate confirmation. Six other Trump administration Interior appointees are also under investigation for potential ethics violations.
Zinke resigned from the Trump administration after it became clear the White House had been pushing him to step down for weeks. The breaking point for the Trump administration – which, itself, tends not to be the most ethical – might have been when Interior’s Inspector General referred one of its many inquiries to the Justice Department for further investigation on suspicion that Zinke has lied about a private land deal with the then-chairman of oil giant Halliburton.
Potentially lying to investigators, which is a criminal offense, was merely the straw that broke the camel’s back. During his short two-year stint as Secretary of the Interior, Zinke faced investigations, ranging from casino deals to bending government rules and wasting taxpayer dollars. Zinke’s revisionist history isn’t going to clear his failed public lands record or the culture of corruption that has run rampant at Interior under President Trump.