Horse News

A Report: Possible Instances of Corruption at Ryan Zinke ‘ s Interior Department

by Western Values Project

This document contains research on possible instances of corruption that could be happening at the Interior Department in the first year of Ryan Zinke’s time as Interior Secretary.

It was just one year ago when then Congressman Ryan Zinke sat before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources explaining how he would manage the nation’s public lands and resources under his leadership if confirmed as the Secretary of the Interior. He

After Zinke’s confirmation, Western Values Project began documenting some of the decisions

made at the Department of Interior (DOI) and unraveling the connections to the administration and new political appointees through the Department of Influence website. Under Zinke’s leadership, the tangled web of revolving door political appointees has led to an extraordinary level of corruption and insider deals. From filing political posts with former lobbyists and swamp creatures to giving industry trade groups preferential access and treatment, it seems no special favor will go unanswered.

Several articles have already covered Zinke’s ethical lapses and poor judgement as Secretary.  He’s billed taxpayers for flying on an oil executive’s private jet, his wife , who has accompanied him on taxpayer funded travel and meetings, was using Interior staff as her own personal assistants, and Zinke’s former Political Action Committee is under investigation for potential campaign finance violations. The list could go on; indeed it does on his Department of Influence profile page. This new report highlights some less reported decisions made at Interior that seem to be more than just a coincidence.

Click (HERE) to download/read entire report.</

12 replies »

  1. David Bernhardt and Cadiz

    In October 2017, the Bureau of the Land Management announced a change of administrative
    opinion that could make millions for Cadiz Inc., a recent client of former lobbyist and current
    Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt.

    In October 2017, the Bureau of Land Management “removed a major obstacle that had long
    stalled a project designed to pump groundwater from the Mojave Desert to communities in
    Southern California.” Reversing guidance issued by the Obama administration’s Bureau of Land
    Management in 2015, the Trump administration’s BLM sent a letter “to Cadiz Inc., the company
    behind the pipeline, stating that the company did not need federal permission to begin
    construction.” [Elizabeth Shogren, “Trump’s BLM removes a hurdle for controversial Cadiz
    project,” High Country News, 10/17/17]

    Since 1992, Cadiz, Inc. has been trying to pump desert groundwater from Cadiz Valley in the
    Mojave Desert to Los Angeles. While at the Washington, D.C. firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber
    Shreck LLP, Bernhardt lobbied directly for Cadiz as they attempted to clear the way for the
    controversial project to go through. Bernhardt’s former firm stands to gain 200,000 shares in
    Cadiz, Inc. stock should the project be completed, estimated to be worth over $2.5 million.
    [Jayson O’Neill, “Is the Deputy Secretary at Interior doing favors for former clients?,” Western
    Values Project, 10/18/17]



      The Absurdity of the Cadiz Water Export Scheme
      April 09, 2017

      The Department of Interior this month reversed a policy to make it easier for the Cadiz company to pump billions of gallons of water from an ancient Mojave Desert aquifer – killing off natural springs that wildlife depend upon – to ship that water to the lush landscaping of Orange County. Cadiz still has other hurdles in its way, but the company’s tenacity and willingness to line the pockets of politicians could spell doom for Mojave wildlife.

      Fragile Springs at Risk
      Desert wildlife are adapted to the dry environment, but many depend on natural springs that can be found throughout the desert. A spring can be as small as a slowly trickling ribbon of shallow water that bubbled up from the ground at the base of a desert mountain, but that small amount of water can keep bighorn sheep, mountain lions, bobcats, jackrabbits, eagles, coyotes and migrating birds alive. But that spring depends on groundwater rising up a small channel in the ground. If the groundwater level is pumped too low, that groundwater will no longer feed the spring nor the wildlife that depend upon it.


  2. page 14

    Todd Willens and Feld Entertainment

    From 2000 to 2002, Todd Willens was Vice-President of Government Relations for Feld
    Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. Willens is
    now the Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Interior Department, and from July 18 to
    September 30, 2017, he was also the Acting Interior Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and
    Parks. In this position, he supervised the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


    • page 14

      After Ringing Bros and Barnum & Bailey closed in May 2017, Feld Entertainment applied for
      an Endangered Species Permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to export fifteen big cats
      to their original owner in Germany.


  3. page 22

    Industry Groups and Migratory Bird Treaty Act

    Oil and gas industry groups asked the Interior Department to issue guidance on the Migratory
    Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) months before the Interior Department issued a legal decision on the
    MBTA that changed the interpretation of the law and was favorable to oil and gas companies.

    On December 22, 2017, the Interior Department issued a legal decision declaring that the
    “Migratory Bird Treaty Act [MBTA] applies only to purposeful actions that kill migratory birds,
    and not to energy companies and other businesses that kill birds incidentally.” Industry groups
    appear to have been engaged on this issue with Interior months before the ruling. In August
    2017, Western Energy Alliance sent a letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asking that “FWS….
    work with the administration” to produce “guidance that MBTA does not give the FWS to
    regulate incidental take for migratory birds.” Independent Petroleum Association of America
    lobbyist Samantha McDonald seems to have known that the Interior Department was
    considering revising their interpretation of the MBTA in November, when she emailed Deputy
    Director for the Office of External Affairs Timothy Williams asking if there was “any word” on
    the MBTA opinion. When Interior issued their legal decision on December 22, both WEA and
    IPAA applauded the decision. [Laurel Wamsley, “Accidentally Killing Birds Isn’t A Crime, Says
    Trump Administration,” NPR, 12/27/17; Daniel Jorjani, M-37050, Department of Interior,
    12/22/17; OS-2017-001063 (Sage Grouse Comms from Industry), Page 315-323; OS-2017-
    001063 (Sage Grouse Comms from Industry), Page 421; Press Release, Independent Petroleum
    Association of America, 12/22/17; Press Release, Western Energy Alliance, 12/22/17; Dino
    Grandoni and Juliet Eilperin, “17 former wildlife officials urge Interior to rethink easing rules
    against killing birds,” Washington Post, 01/12/18]


  4. Each andevety one of them are Swamp Creatures! The BLM was bad enough now this creep! How much more do we have to put up with? They are ALL out of control while we see our Wild horses and Burros disappear! Get out and VOTE! Let the Blue Wave sweep thru EVERY state that isn’t Blue already! This is OUR only HOPE!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This OPINION piece was posted on the AVMA site ate “news”! Its also shown on the CAES Facebook page.
    Apparently no one ever edited it! Its nothing but BLM & livestock propaganda!
    It is possible to comment on it – if you go to the contact button at the bottom!

    Exploding population of wild horses, burros strains BLM
    The Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro program is at a crossroads, according to Alan Shepherd, the program’s on-range branch chief.


  6. From AMERICAN HERDS 2009

    Shepherd-ing The Future (excerpts)

    They brought him in from Wyoming, where he oversaw BLM’s second largest wild horse operation in the West. He is the “lead” contraceptive guy, the “lead” guy in new census studies on the Adobe Town/Salt Wells Horses, and now has been brought in as the “Lead” Wild Horse & Burro manager for Nevada.

    He was on the Team Conference Calls between July and September of 2008, after BLM announced they might euthanize tens of thousands of horses as he and others plotted “what to do”, which was finalized in the Draft Alternative Management Options Report (October 2008), so graphically summarized by this recent Animal Law Coalition article by Laura Allen in, “BLMs Final Solution for the Wild Horses & Burros” and Equine Welfare Alliance’s, “BLM Slaughter Conspiracy” by Valerie James Patton and John Holland.

    But for now, it looks like Alan has set his sites for rubbing elbows with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar by drawing up a pretty, bullet point paper about the “future” of our mustangs and burros titled, “Nevada Wild Horse & Burro Strategy Update – NV Tri-RAC” that seems intent on totaling supporting and doing whatever it takes to move Secretary Salazar’s plans forward.

    As I read what Mr. Shepherd was outlining, I wanted to ask him how he knows the current population in Nevada is 21,000 wild horses and burros or that 31 HMAs are above AML (165%), when part of the outlined strategy is to “increase accuracy of populations”.

    Or why BLM believes they need to reduce reproduction rates when they are having trouble figuring out how many horses are really on the range to begin with.

    But since Alan arrived in Nevada, he hasn’t responded to a single question I’ve posed or email sent. As a result, I’d also like to ask Mr. Shepherd what “develop a public participation and outreach strategy” means, but since he doesn’t respond to my current efforts of “public participation”, it doesn’t look like the chances are very high I’ll get an answer on this question either. Maybe this is a precursor to BLMs new vision for public involvement…


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