Today, Montana-based conservation watchdog group Western Values Project announced they will run a nearly $30,000 ad campaign in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s home state calling on Zinke to resign. The full-page newspaper ads, which highlight Zinke’s ethical failures, will run Sunday in seven Montana papers: the Kalispell Daily Inter Lake, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Billings Gazette, Butte Montana Standard, Helena Independent Record, Missoulian, and Ravalli Republic. The ads come following recent news that President Trump is considering firing his Interior Secretary after an investigation into Zinke was referred to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate potential criminal activity.
“It’s time for Secretary Zinke to leave through his $139,000 taxpayer-funded doors,” said Western Values Project Executive Director Chris Saeger. “During his tenure as Interior Secretary, he has abused his public office for personal gain to an unprecedented degree and public lands users have paid the price. His last act at Interior should be to finally hold himself accountable and resign.”
Earlier this week, President Trump announced that he was “looking at” allegations that Zinke violated ethics rules. The President’s concern comes after CNN reported that the Interior’s office of the inspector general referred an investigation into Zinke to DOJ. The referred investigation deals with Zinke’s abuse of public office for private gain and his possible involvement in his family foundation’s sweetheart real estate deal with the Chairman of Halliburton.
The investigation was referred to DOJ just days before the leaked and subsequently walked-back announcement of an Inspector General (IG) replacement. Just after this botched firing, Interior’s IG released a scathing report that found that Zinke had wasted $25,000 in taxpayer dollars on a family trip to Turkey, took his campaign donors boating, and told his staff to explore giving his wife a volunteer job at Interior to avoid reimbursing taxpayers for her travel.
Zinke is the most scandal-plagued member of the Trump administration, being the subject of at least fifteen federal investigations since he started as Interior Secretary 20 months ago.
Earlier this week, Western Values Project launched www.hasryanzinkebeenfiredyet.com as a handy reference to keep tabs on the Interior Secretary’s remaining time at the Department.