Secretary Zinke adds more special interests to the payroll at Interior

16 new in-depth profiles added to

While Congress is enjoying summer vacation and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is off on an overseas adventure, the revolving door is spinning at the Department of the Interior with 16 new hires – but not a single one from the $887 billion outdoor industry.

Earlier this month, the Western Values Project launched the Department of Influence, a website that tracks the revolving door between special interest lobbyists and appointees at the Interior Department. With the addition of 16 new profiles of staffers at the department, analysis continues to show that lobbyists, political cronies, and special interests are taking over the department, while scientists and civil servants are being reassigned or pushed out.

“Secretary Zinke is stacking the deck against Western communities who value our outdoor heritage and public lands. He has failed to hire representatives from the conservation community, sportsmen groups and the outdoor industry, and has instead filled his cabinet with swamp creatures coming straight from the oil and gas industry,” said Jayson O’Neill, Deputy Director of the Western Values Project. “Given the special interest echo chamber he has created at Interior, it’s not surprising that Secretary Zinke has forgotten his Montana values and abandoned promises to preserve public lands and public access.”

The Department of Influence website now has 63 in-depth profiles on political appointees at the Department of the Interior. Those appointees include:

28 people coming from special interests

14 campaign cronies

9 lobbyists

4 people with a background in conservation

2 representatives from sportsmen groups

0 outdoor industry representatives

These insiders and former special interest representatives will now be making policy and regulatory decisions that impact federal public lands and national parks. Without watchful oversight and accountability, these operatives may use their power in government to enrich their allies.

Additions to the website include:

Joe Balash, Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Land and Minerals Management
Preston Beard, Advisor in the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement
Gavin Clarkson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Economic Development – Indian Affairs
Susan Combs, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget
Blake Deeley, Advisor in the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs
Gary Lawkowski, Counselor to the Solicitor of the Interior
Greg Sheehan, Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Richard Goeken, Deputy Solicitor for Parks and Wildlife
Alex Hinson, Deputy Press Secretary for the Department of the Interior
Eli Nachmany, Speechwriter
Leila Getto, Deputy Director of Scheduling and Advance
David Mihalic, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior
Russell Newell, Deputy Director of Communications for the Department of the Interior
Lacey Smethers, Special Assistant in the Immediate Office of the Secretary of the Interior
Aurelia Skipwith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks
Elinor Renner, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior 

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