‘It’s hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle,’ Zinke says of senior House Democrat

Source: The Washington Post

by Lisa Rein and Juliet Eilperin

“Zinke just can’t help himself.  Even surgery may not be enough to, at least temporarly, remove his foot from his mouth.” ~ R.T.

The extraordinary statement from a member of President Trump’s Cabinet came after Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) — who is poised to take over the committee that oversees Zinke’s agency in January — published a scathing op-ed in USA Today that called the secretary “unfit to serve” amid “ethical and managerial failings” that include multiple investigations of his conduct.

“It’s hard for him to think straight from the bottom of the bottle,” Zinke wrote from his official Twitter account, @SecretaryZinke, at 12:02 p.m. He prefaced it, “My thoughts on Rep. Grijalva’s opinion piece.”

“This is coming from a man who used nearly $50,000 in tax dollars as hush money to cover up his drunken and hostile behavior,” Zinke wrote. “He should resign and pay back the taxpayer for the hush money and the tens of thousands of dollars he forced my department to spend investigating unfounded allegations.”

Zinke and Grijalva have sparred on policy matters as well as issues related to the secretary’s conduct, with tension escalating as it became clear that House Democrats would soon be in a position to conduct greater scrutiny of the Trump administration.

The eight-term congressman has questioned the secretary’s move to shrink two massive national monuments in Utah, expand offshore drilling of America’s coasts, and roll back Obama-era rules aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas operations on federal and tribal lands.

Grijalva has also blasted Zinke over allegations of ethical misconduct, including over his land deal in Whitefish, Mont., with the chairman of Halliburton, the oil services giant. That matter is under investigation and has been referred to the Justice Department, meaning that it involves potential criminal activity.

The inspector general is also looking into Zinke’s decision to deny a permit to two tribes in Connecticut who were seeking to establish a casino after MGM Resorts International lobbied against it.

The inspector general and the Office of Special Counsel have launched at least 15 investigations into Zinke’s conduct, 10 of which have been closed. The inspector general has cleared Zinke of wrongdoing in several cases, including a recent finding that he did not improperly alter the boundaries of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to benefit a political ally in Utah. But that same office concluded in October that Zinke violated department policy by having his wife accompany him in government vehicles, and by instructing his security detail to take an associate to the airport when he was not in the car.

In his op-ed, Grijalva wrote: “While the secretary continues to project confidence, questions have grown since the election about his plans, and the White House reportedly fears that he would be unable to withstand scrutiny on Capitol Hill. Those fears are justified. Mr. Zinke has never even tried to offer an explanation for the sheer scope of his well-documented scandals.”

Grijalva added: “The department needs someone accountable at the helm who believes in this mission. Mr. Zinke is not that person. Federal agencies cannot function without credible leadership, and he offers none. He needs to resign.”

President Trump, for his part, has said that he intends to “review” multiple ethics investigations against the secretary before deciding whether to keep Zinke on in his Cabinet. But the president has not publicly discussed his plans, and Zinke returned this week from more than 2½ weeks out west to attend Wednesday’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the White House.

Zinke has shown no signs of wanting to leave his post. In an interview Thursday with “Fox News @ Night,” he argued that he had been targeted by “Democratic operatives” and would emerge unscathed.

“I’ve had 10 investigations completed. And you know what they say?” he asked in response to a question posed by host Shannon Bream. “Ryan Zinke follows all the rules, all the regulations, all the procedures. This is politically motivated. In Montana, we call it BS.”

When the Christmas holiday came up, Zinke joked that he would be investigated yet again if he shared Christian greetings.

“Merry Christmas,” he said. “If I should be investigated by saying it, you know what? ‘Merry Christmas, America.’ ”

While Interior’s press office did not elaborate on Zinke’s tweet Friday, his reference to the congressman’s “drunken and hostile behavior” may have been based on a story that appeared Nov. 27, 2017, in the Washington Times: “How a House Dem accused of drunken shenanigans revealed another secret ‘hush fund.’ ”

The paper reported that Grijalva arranged a $48,395 severance payout for a female staffer who threatened to sue him for being “frequently drunk” and creating a “hostile workplace environment,” according to the article. The employee quit after three months and did not pursue legal action, the article said.

The congressman told the Times that the agreement allowed the employee’s pay to resume at her full salary for five months after she left his office.

Grijalva acknowledged to the Times that the money was a severance package and that the agreement was reached without a complaint lodged with the Office of Compliance, which handles workplace grievances by congressional employees. He said in a statement that “at no time was any allegation of sexual harassment made, and no sexual harassment occurred.”

Grijalva did acknowledge during an interview with News 4 Tucson earlier this year that he had struggled with drinking in the past but said it no longer posed a problem. “I dealt with it, and I feel comfortable that I got past that,” he said.

Asked about Zinke’s tweet Friday, Grijalva issued a statement saying, “The American people know who I’m here to serve, and they know in whose interests I’m acting. They don’t know the same about Secretary Zinke.”

In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Grijalva said that he expects that Zinke will come to testify about the secretary’s discussions around a land deal between the Zinkes’ family foundation and a group of developers that includes Halliburton chairman David Lesar. Grijalva and other Democrats asked Interior’s acting inspector general to launch a probe of the matter in late June, after Politico first reported on the deal.

Separately, the congressman said he wants more answers about an incident in October in which Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson announced that one of his top appointees would become Interior’s acting inspector general. Days later, Interior officials called Carson’s statement “100 percent false” and said they would not hire HUD official Suzanne Israel Tufts.

“The coincidence of the timing, I would question,” Grijalva said, noting that Carson’s statement came shortly after acting Interior inspector general Mary Kendall referred allegations concerning Zinke to the Justice Department.

“This is not a scattered-gun approach; these are things that have been on the table for a year, a year and a half,” Grijalva said.

7 comments

  1. This week it seems federal employees can’t even speak the word “impeachment” anywhere without backlash from their bosses, yet Zinke cheerfully greets his new boss with such spiteful public venom.

    He’s also not a forester or fire researcher (guess he ditched science class or played too much football?). From “boots on the ground” in CA the urban interface fires are different from forest fires, with the fuels being mostly brush and grasses (something Captain Simpson’s wild horse Fire Brigade could effectively address):

    “the recent Woolsey Fire that burned from Malibu to Thousand Oaks happened in largely chaparral-covered landscape.

    Such fires result from bone-dry conditions and high winds, said Helge Eng, deputy director of resource management Cal Fire.

    “We’re still recovering from a five-year drought, and with not a lot of precipitation this year, so with high winds, you get these catastrophic fires,” he said.

    Similarly the Camp Fire — which became the most destructive fire in the state’s history after obliterating the Northern California town of Paradise — spread after winds up to 65 miles an hour howled through canyons east of the town.

    The blaze did start in the foothills of Sierra Nevada mountains, but not in an overly dense patch of woods. On the contrary, the fire spread through an area that had been recently logged. It then burned through grassland and sparse woodland oak habitat.

    “Contrary to Trump’s claims that increased logging would somehow stop the fires, the Camp Fire rapidly spread through the 2008 Butte fire area before it burned down most of the town of Paradise, and the Butte fire area was heavily post-fire logged nearly a decade ago,” said Chad Hanson, a research ecologist with the Earth Island Institute’s John Muir Project. … Lower-elevation urban areas face the threat of fast-moving weather-driven fires that can burn through grasslands and chaparral.

    https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/environment/sd-me-wildfire-logging-trump-20181112-story.html

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  2. Zinke is no stranger to alcohol himself, maybe that makes him an expert witness?

    “Neither myself or my wife were involved in the city’s approval of the development that included among other facilities, a microbrewery on the developer’s property adjacent to the proposed parking lot. Neither my wife or I are involved with the building or operation of any planned microbrewery. Any suggestion to the contrary is absurd.” Ryan Zinke
    According to reporting in Politico this is a lie.
    Interior IG to scrutinize Zinke’s beer-making plans

    The Western Values Project stated it best:

    Yet, the Lesar-backed development is simply the latest iteration of the brewery that Zinke first proposed in September 2012 on a piece of residential property that he and his wife own. Shelved in December after residents objected. https://flatheadbeacon.com/2012/12/09/plans-shelved-for-whitefish-brewery-and-bed-and-breakfast/

    He named the planned brewery & the company they started that owns the residential property “Double Tap,” a SEAL term for two gunshots. Even asked Whitefish city government to approve a zoning change that would allow him to convert the residential property into a microbrewery.

    Zinke and other Montana state senators passed bills to encourage the growth, including one that allowed breweries to increase how many barrels they could produce and sell on their own premises.

    Zinke himself introduced a bill in the Montana Legislature in 2011 that would have allowed such establishments to stay open until 10 p.m., two hours later than what existing law allowed. The bill died in committee.

    https://themontanapost.com/2018/08/03/ryan-zinke-is-a-corrupt-liar/

    Like

  3. Zinke may be an expert witness regarding alcoholic fog:

    “Neither myself or my wife were involved in the city’s approval of the development that included among other facilities, a microbrewery on the developer’s property adjacent to the proposed parking lot. Neither my wife or I are involved with the building or operation of any planned microbrewery. Any suggestion to the contrary is absurd.” Ryan Zinke

    According to reporting in Politico this is a lie.

    The Western Values Project stated it best:
    Yet, the Lesar-backed development is simply the latest iteration of the brewery that Zinke first proposed in September 2012 on a piece of residential property that he and his wife own. Shelved in December after residents objected.

    https://flatheadbeacon.com/2012/12/09/plans-shelved-for-whitefish-brewery-and-bed-and-breakfast/

    He named the planned brewery & the company they started that owns the residential property “Double Tap,” a SEAL term for two gunshots. Even asked Whitefish city government to approve a zoning change that would allow him to convert the residential property into a microbrewery.

    Zinke and other Montana state senators passed bills to encourage the growth, including one that allowed breweries to increase how many barrels they could produce and sell on their own premises.

    Zinke himself introduced a bill in the Montana Legislature in 2011 that would have allowed such establishments to stay open until 10 p.m., two hours later than what existing law allowed. The bill died in committee.

    https://themontanapost.com/2018/08/03/ryan-zinke-is-a-corrupt-liar/

    (apologies if this is a double post, the first seems not to have worked)

    Like

  4. A “new way of doing business”…or business as usual?

    Would this data be part of the “record destruction” process?

    Interior finalizes boundaries of 12 new ‘Unified Regions’
    August 29
    By: Jessie Bur

    The Department of Interior finalized its map of 12 regional boundaries intended to divide the country as part of the agency’s reorganization and increased efficiency efforts, according to an Aug. 29 email obtained by Federal Times.

    The plan would assign efforts made by Department of Interior bureaus — such as the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — into regions determined by watersheds, wildlife corridors, trail systems and state boundaries to better coordinate agency efforts on a local scale.

    The new boundaries stem from a March 2017 executive order calling for federal agencies to submit plans for reorganization to the director of the Office of Management and Budget, many of which went into the development of the June 2018 reorganization plan.

    “In the coming weeks, we will take actions to align DOI into the 12 unified regional boundaries. Bureau regional boundaries will transition from their current regional structures to participate in the new twelve unified regional boundaries,” wrote Interior Deputy Director of External Affairs Tim Williams wrote in the email obtained by Federal Times.

    “These new Unified Regional Boundaries provide the framework for a new way of doing business.”

    https://www.federaltimes.com/management/2018/08/29/interior-finalizes-boundaries-of-12-new-unified-regions/

    Like

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