Western Values Project requests records on Secretary Zinke’s threats to Alaska, prepares for legal action

The Western Values Project (WVP) has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all records related to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s threats against Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan. If the Interior Department does not fulfill the request within 20 business days as legally required, WVP is prepared to take legal action.

Read the full letter submitted to the Interior Department here.

“Secretary Zinke’s leadership at Interior is as sloppy as it is corrupt. To threaten a Senator over an issue unrelated to Interior’s business is beyond the pale,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project. “These reports show that the Department of the Interior has abandoned its land management mission and has become another tool for the Trump administration to intimidate its political adversaries. All the facts related to this unprecedented threat must be made available. If the Interior Department does not promptly comply with our Freedom of Information Act request we will be prepared to take legal action.”

Secretary Zinke has come under fire after threatening Alaska’s senators over Senator Lisa Murkowski’s health care vote, but this isn’t the first time he has faced questions for injecting politics into his work at Interior. Last week, Members of Congress began calls for an investigation after reports surfaced that Zinke inappropriately reassigned scientists working at Interior.

More from the FOIA filed today (available online at this link):

The Alaska Dispatch News reported on July 26, 2017 of disturbing calls from Secretary Zinke to Senators Murkowski and Sullivan in which Secretary Zinke is reported to have signaled that Senator Murkowski’s recent vote against the President on the motion to proceed to debate on a health care bill will have negative consequences for issues important to the state of Alaska. Per the Alaska Dispatch News, these efforts and issues include “nominations of Alaskans to Interior posts, an effort to build a road out of King Cove through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, and future opportunities to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and expand drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, among other regulatory issues that are a priority for Murkowski and Sullivan.” As such, there is substantial public interest in understanding the nature of Secretary Zinke and DOI’s actions in regards to this mater.

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, WVP request access to and copies of:

Given the gravity of the threats made by Secretary Zinke, WVP is requesting the immediate release of all these documents.

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