Zinke’s Shrinking of National Monuments and Meetings With Halliburton Could Be Center of DOJ Investigation

By Olivia Rosane, EcoWatch

The Department of Interior’s (DOI) Office of Inspector General (OIG) is currently running three ethics investigations of Zinke

One of the Department of Interior’s (DOI) internal watchdog investigations into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke‘s behavior while in office has been referred to the Justice Department, which only happens when investigators determine there might have been a criminal violation, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Two sources familiar with the investigation broke the news to the press, but did not specify which of the probes into Zinke’s actions was involved. A senior White House official only told The Washington Post that the investigation revolved around whether Zinke “used his office to help himself.”

The Department of Interior’s (DOI) Office of Inspector General (OIG) is currently running three ethics investigations of Zinke. These include whether his decision to shrink Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument was partly to benefit a local lawmaker and if conversations with the chair of oil-giant Halliburton about a Montana development project Zinke stands to benefit from constituted a conflict of interest.

“The evidence is mounting that Ryan Zinke has criminally abused his power to exploit taxpayer funds in order to afford the lavish lifestyle he desires while working to enrich his friends in the fossil fuel industry. Now, the chickens are coming home to roost,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement. “Ryan Zinke has done his best to emulate Scott Pruitt, now it’s time he finishes the impersonation and resigns.”

The news comes two weeks after rumors that Zinke would replace acting Inspector General Mary L. Kendall with a Trump administration political appointee from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. DOI denied those reports, but Center for Western Priorities Executive Director Jennifer Rokala suggested that they still put the independence of the internal DOI investigation at risk.

“If Interior’s inspector general is unable to hold Secretary Zinke accountable without political interference, it’s time for career prosecutors at the Justice Department to take over,” she said in a statement reported by The Washington Post.

Zinke himself brushed off the Justice Department investigation and said no one from the department had contacted him.

“They haven’t talked to me. It will be the same thing as all the other investigations. I follow all rules, procedures, regulations and most importantly the law. This is another politically driven investigation that has no merit,” he told CNN.

These are the three investigations that might get Zinke in criminal trouble:

  1. Grand Staircase Escalante: When Zinke redrew the boundaries of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, he drew them around a piece of land belonging to a state lawmaker, prompting concerns that he was trading public lands for political favors.
  2. Halliburton Deal: Zinke has met with Halliburton Chair David Lesar while in office and discussed a Montana real estate development owned by Lesar’s son that might include a brewery that the Zinkes’ would run and could increase the value of land nearby owned by the Zinkes’ foundation. The DOI is involved with regulating Halliburton.
  3. Connecticut Casino Controversy: Connecticut lawmakers asked for an investigation into Zinke’s handling of a potential Native American casino project. He met with lobbyists opposed to the project, but refused to meet with proponents and may have given false information to the tribes involved.

14 comments

  1. Have read that there is now “pigeon fever” among the Devils Garden horses rounded up! Have already killed seven supposedly with pigeon fever, plus two with pre-existing conditions (sounds like health care) and two others – not sure of the reasons. Eleven horses. Seven of which for a disease that normally isnt life-threatening.
    One was diagnosed before November 1st – but no one told then. No one warned that if they were walking around in the DG corral area – they could be carrying the disease home to their own horses – OR cows!! Saw this on WHE site this am.

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  2. Pigeon Fever (like Strangles) is not a rare disease but both are common in our environment and persist for years. Both demand careful attention to preventing spread through human actions and shared resources (water troughs, feed, any equipment used on multiple horses, etc.). It’s alarming the professional BLM staff don’t seem to comprehend even the basics of how to manage an outbreak or prevent it from spreading.

    Killing horses for non-life threatening disease which is manageable but requires humane care is the furthest thing from what a paid manager should be doing. In any other horse care arrangement those responsible would be fired. Why are they willing to use restraining chutes to rip ovaries out of live mares but unwilling to use them to provide needed veterinary care for draining and disinfecting abcesses?

    Where is the HSUS? Where is the ASPCA? Where is AWI? Why are more horses being brought in per WHE? Most of all, why are we paying for this?

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      • I would seem that actually having a CERTIFIED veterinarian onsite would be a good? idea?
        Have seen strangles in horses – knew horses that came thru it. I’m assuming pigeon fever is a nasty disease, but again, with CARE & quarantine, I would imagine that even wild horses would recover. Sadly, with these agencies – their answer seems to always be kill them, then not to inform the public or FS employees that they should be taking precautions – something that a veterinarian might have informed them, right?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This in itself is illegal and often called “Regulatory Capture”.

    Regulatory capture is a form of political corruption that occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or special concerns of interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating. Regulatory capture is a form of government failure; it creates an opening for firms to behave in ways injurious to the public.

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  4. DEVIL’S GARDEN WILD HORSE CAPTURE OPERATION/U.S. FOREST SERVICE

    Nov. 3 wild horse gather update
    Release Date: Nov 4, 2018

    Thirty-nine horses were gathered yesterday from the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory, making the total 784.

    Following a notification of positive test of one horse with pigeon fever on Oct. 26, a total of SEVEN horses showing symptoms were EUTHANIZED to protect the herd. Less than one percent of gathered horses show symptoms of the disease.

    An additional four horses have been euthanized for other chronic preexisting conditions, and two due to acute injuries. ONE FOAL DIED IN HOLDING and TWO were MISCARRIED. Many foals are expected to be born in holding next spring and will need homes in addition to gathered horses.

    Gathered horses will be ready for new homes soon. They will thrive when given a good home free of harsh winters and scarce feed. Modoc National Forest personnel and partners are planning an adoption event at the new Double Devil Wild Horse Corrals on Nov. 16 and 17, 2018.

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    • “Gathered horses will be ready for new homes soon”? Somehow, I doubt the “harsh winters'(in California) and scarce feed” are responsible for pigeon fever. I hope they arent going to allow horses to be trailered out of there before its determined the horses are healthy! And honestly, in looking at the pictures of the horses in the pens – most were in darned good shape – the ones who were thin & not thriving appeared to be mares – possibly older or maybe all their nutrition had gone to foals? Dont get me wrong – obviously, I couldnt see each & every horse there – but most looked good.

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  5. Notice that the same names keep showing up

    MODOC FARM BUREAU

    This year’s Distinguished Service Award went to SUSIE STOKKE
    The was the creative force behind the development of Modoc County Farm Bureau’s Retired Worker Program which has been using Resource Advisory Committee funds, supplemented with matches from permittees, farm bureau and Modoc County to accomplish work on the Modoc National Forest that the Forest was not staffed or funded to complete. She was also the organizational mind that conceived developing the Wild Horse Territory Plan through the Retired Worker Program and along with
    ROB JEFFERS is responsible for its timely and efficient completion.
    This Plan was the essential first step in reducing the over population of wild horses.
    https://www.facebook.com/Modoc-County-Farm-Bureau-355141114541710/
    ______________________________________________________________________
    September 30, 2016
    DEVIL’S GARDEN PLATEAU WILD HORSE TERRITORY MANAGEMENT PLAN
    Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) Members
    IDT Leader(s): SUSAN STOKKE and ROB JEFFERS
    Wild Horses: ROB JEFFERS
    Range: SUSAN STOKKE
    http://a123.g.akamai.net/7/123/11558/abc123/forestservic.download.akamai.com/11558/www/nepa/68506_FSPLT3_1452088.pdf
    ______________________________________________________________________________________

    AWARD – WILD HORSE GATHER, MODOC NATIONAL FOREST This contract was awarded to Cattoor Livestock Roundup Inc with a potential award amount of $480,000. Period of Performance 09/14/2018 – 11/14/2018 (2 months)https://www.usaspending.gov/#/award/68507872
    **************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************
    JACKSON MT. WILD HORSES (excerpts)
    http://americanherds.blogspot.com/

    Though BLM admitted to most of the Jackson Mountains wild horses having snotty noses and respiratory illness when they arrived at Palomino Valley, what BLM definitely was not admitting too is, respiratory complications are one of the known detrimental effects of driving wild horses by helicopter.
    Wild horses have a history of often developing respiratory complications due to being driven for miles when they have not been conditioned for such endurance runs and by being forced to inhale large amounts of dust throughout the ordeal.
    In the Animal Welfare Institute’s publication, “Managing For Extinction” regarding the
    management practices and abuses occurring in BLMs Wild Horse and Burro Program, they reported, “In the fall of 2006, the Palomino Valley, NV and Litchfield, CA holding facilities suffered from outbreaks of strangles, a highly infectious and serious respiratory disease.
    During the past two years, practically every BLM facility has experienced similar disease outbreaks, leading to the confirmed deaths of scores of animals…..”
    As for what happened to those involved in the Jackson Mountains tragedy?
    Nevada Wild Horse & Burro Lead SUSIE STOKKE and National Wild Horse & Burro Lead Dean Bolstad continue to serve in their respective positions.
    Cattoor Livestock Roundups, Inc., the gather contractor and crew that drove the Jackson Mountains wild horses, continues to receive multi-million dollar contracts to remove wild horses and burros from public lands, as they have done for BLM and other government agencies for over thirty years.
    *******************************************************************************

    BLM’S SECRET PLANNING DOCUMENTS “ALTERNATIVE MANAGEMENT OPTIONS”
    Documents obtained by the Freedom of Information Act:
    BLM Alternative Management Options Draft Plan + Markup

    BLM Implementation Team minutes + markup

    BLM Implementation Team minutes + markup

    https://thecloudfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/alternativemanagement_optionsblm10_2008_markup.pdf
    https://thecloudfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/blm_implementation_team_minutes_2008_markup.pdf
    http://www.thecloudfoundation.org/news/press-releases/archived-press-releases/350-blm-s-secret-planning-documents-alternative-management-options
    Documents Reveal BLM Secret Plan to Destroy Wild Horses

    Documents obtained from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) via the Freedom of Information Act by a Phoenix-based non-profit, The Conquistador Program, reveal shocking and detailed plans to destroy healthy wild horses in government holding facilities as well as those still remaining in the wild on public lands.

    BLM employees as well as a USDA veterinarian held weekly “Implementation Team” meetings beginning in July of 2008 in which they discussed and developed strategies aimed at ridding BLM of thousands of mustangs. In October they completed a 68 page document entitled “Alternative Management Options”. Tactics included in this document are reminiscent of those used to wipe out Native American tribes in the 1800s.

    The BLM team created scenarios for killing mustangs using barbiturates, gun shots, or captive bolts. Bodies would be disposed of through rendering, burial or incineration. They discussed killing 1200-2000 wild horses per year. The document states that “the general public would be prohibited from viewing euthanasia.” Additionally, the Team felt that “increased support from public relations and management staff would also be needed to insulate those doing the actual work from the public, media and Congressional scrutiny/criticism.”
    BLM’S FINAL SOLUTION FOR WILD HORSES & BURROS
    TEAM CONFERENCE CALL/2008/FOIA DOCUMENT
    ROB JEFFERS in attendance
    BLM TEAM CONFERENCE CALL
    July 29, 2008
    Team Members
    Lili Thomas (Note taker/Team lead),
    Joe Stratton,
    John Neil,
    ROB JEFFERS,
    Jim Johnson and
    Al Kane
    Euthanasia
    How many could be euthanized during a gather without having NEPA?
    What is the criteria used during a gather to euthanize a horse is it age, and if so what age?
    How many could be euthanized at the preparation facility without causing a major change in the practice of disposal?
    What would be the criteria for euthanizing at the midpoint and adoption facilities?
    Would you contract disposal of the carcasses at gather sites?
    Have a euthanasia and disposal contract?
    Have a contract to sell horses at the gather site?
    Are we euthanizing horses to save money to complete gathers?
    The team will have comments on the above question for the next conference call

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Another BIG reason for concern

    Congressman Doug LaMalfa (up for re-election Tuesday) is the U.S. representative for this district which includes the Devil’s Garden in Modoc County.

    This committee made the recommendation that would have allowed Wild Horses & Burros to be “euthanized” or sold without restrictions, which would have removed ANY protection from slaughter.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. THE MODOC COUNTY RECORD NEWS

    News for the week of November 1, 2018
    Grazing and the economics of scale

    Everyone seems to agree that the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory is overgrazed. Everyone seems to agree that Modoc County is struggling financially to stay solvent.
    One of the major local issues making national news is the issue of selling wild horses for slaughter. Too many wild horses, too many cattle. Interesting conversation topics.
    This paper has printed the economics of grazing cattle on public lands helps the rancher financially as the grazing permits are relatively inexpensive as compared to grazing on private lands.
    A cow and calf pair can graze on public lands, including Modoc County, for anywhere from $1.41 to $1.87 per month, while on private land the cost is approximately $20 to $30 per month.
    https://www.modocrecord.com/news.html

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course it helps “the rancher” – but as we all know – it sure does help the livestock INDUSTRY – the ranching LOBBY – the POLITICIANS ever more! There really needs to be a house cleaning – hope Today is a start! I wish the people living in these areas would step up & speak out – they cant ALL be profiting from the grazing business.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Maggie, Modoc has a history that has largely been left untold.
        From the sounds of it…not much has changed:

        The Modoc War

        The Modoc War began in November 1872 when the military tried to force a small band of Modoc Indians, led by Captain Jack, to a reservation. The Modocs took refuge in an ancient lava flow that became their stronghold. Today it is a part of the Lava Beds National Monument. The Modocs knew the land and used it to their advantage. Twisting lava tubes and hidden caves created the perfect hideout for fifty-five Modoc warriors and their families. Indian policy was the subject of national debate and many humanitarians sided with the Modocs. Then the Indians attacked a peace commission, resulting in the only U.S. General killed in an Indian conflict. The government cracked down hard, calling for swift punishment. By the end, the Modocs were fighting off a force of nearly 1,000 men, made up of both military soldiers and civilian volunteers. Again and again, the small band of Indians overcame incredible odds to protect their way of life. But it could not last. Their world was about to change forever. Oregon Experience revisits the battle scenes, and uses rare historical images and original wood cut drawings from the period. Additionally, interviews with Modoc descendants, national historians and written first-hand accounts, bring the Modoc War to life.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks again, Louie –
        One more (of many) stories of what was done & IS being done to far to many species – human and animal! Not a history to be proud of. And we seem to keep on doing it – with no lessons learned.

        Liked by 1 person

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