Feel Good Sunday: Benny the Therapy Donkey visits UT Law School

as published on The Statesman.com

“Leave it to the women of Wild Horse Freedom Federation to lead the way and shout volumes for the voiceless wild horses and burros.  Be it Debbie Coffey and her massive research and legal eagle stuff, Carol Walker out in the field documenting the beauty that is our wild equines, Terry Fitch behind the scenes keeping the books straight and donors informed to this week with our Director of Legal Affairs Dawn Reveley (also a law professor at the University of Texas) and our Director of Wild Burro Affairs, Marjorie Farabee…making news and ensuring that people, in this case law students, are getting the message.  Thanks to all of you for who you are and for what you do.  I am so privileged to call you my friends.” ~ R.T.


Click on Image to view video

We Bought the Ponies Some Time, So Whats Next?

OpEd by Susan Wagner, President of Equine Advocates

“It’s not over until it is OVER!”

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Now that the new spending bill has passed with the language we needed to temporarily protect America’s wild and domestic equines, where do we go from here?

Thanks to the friends horses have on The Hill, especially our champion, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico who led the charge to protect them, as well as the passion and persistence of so many of you who took the time to call and send faxes to your lawmakers, the status quo, at least for now, has been maintained.

a. Horse meat inspectors will remain defunded so that horse slaughterhouses cannot open and operate in this country.

b. Wild horses and burros will not lose the minimal amount of protection they still have so that the ones being held captive in BLM holding facilities will not be executed and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will not be able to authorize their sale “without limitation,” which means slaughter.

That was all good.

However, in order to move forward, we need:

1. A Federal Ban on Horse Slaughter with Strong Language for Enforcement and Stiff Penalties.

– It is doubtful that a stand-alone animal bill will ever pass this Congress. In fact, the closest this country ever came to passing a federal bill banning horse slaughter was in 2006 with the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act which passed in the House but was blocked in the Senate. The good that did result from that bill even though it did not become law, was the addition of language defunding horse meat inspectors to our federal spending bills as a way to prevent horse slaughterhouses from reopening here. That language does not prevent live equines from being shipped over our borders into Mexico and Canada for slaughter, but at least the numbers of horse going over are down to an estimated 100,000 annually. That’s still way too many, but if slaughter plants were to reopen here, those numbers would balloon to 250,000-350,000 a year because indiscriminate and over-breeding would explode, just as was the case in the 1980’s and 1990’s when horse slaughterhouses still operated here. The last one closed its doors in 2007 and at least the defund language has kept horse slaughter from returning to U.S. soil. When President Obama was still in office, several attempts were made to attach language banning horse slaughter to other federal bills, but none got to the floor for a vote. We hope that powerful lawmakers who care will try that again. Otherwise we will be right back to where we were all over again fighting to add language to defund horse meat inspectors to the next federal spending bill and have to repeat this process all over again and hope it doesn’t go the other way.

2. A Complete Change in the Current Policy for Wild Horses and Burros With a Return to the Provisions Passed in the “Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burrs Act of 1971.”

– Wild horse and burro issues are at a standstill and there is no hope for any real progress unless we have an interior Secretary who is interested in working to protect and preserve them. Clearly, Ryan Zinke is not. In fact, he is driving them to extinction, as has been the case with several of his predecessors. What we need is an end to the round-ups, an end to deliberately destroying the viability of the herds by stockpiling more and more captured animals in BLM holding facilities. The ones still in captivity need to be returned to the range. Right now, unless we have allies on our side who control money – meaning that they have the attention of lawmakers because they are powerful and part of business and industry equal to those on the other side in ranching, (the Cattlemen) and fossil fuels, hunting interests, etc., we will get nowhere. What we do have is 80% of the American People who are in favor of protecting and preserving these animals, but the different proposed plans by which to achieve that goal never seem gain any traction, especially when “welfare ranchers” believe they are entitled to use, ruin and deplete the range lands for their own greed and profit. These are not small family ranchers. No, these are the big, factory industrialized businesses that deal with millions of head of cattle and do not care if our wild horses and burros are destroyed, along with other native species.

…So where do we go from here? Think about it.
There’s a lot of work to be done.

Opinion: Pioneer Woman Sides with Wild Horse Slaughter Schemers

“In my humble Opinion” by R.T. Fitch

BLM Wild Horse Holder, Ree Drummond, Dances with the Devil

“Where’s the Beef?”

In response to Debbie Coffey’s article published on 2/12/2018 I would like to add that I was not the least bit surprised that Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman) would be experiencing ‘the vapors’ over her little rodeo routine at the National Cattleman’s Beef Association convention earlier this year.

Why not?

She and her husband have made tens of millions of dollars off the backs of wild horses who have been ripped from their rightful range, their families smashed to pieces and what’s left of the gender segregated herds are farmed out to the likes of the Drummonds at great expense to the tax-payer while privately owned, federally subsidized cattle are put on the horses range.

Why not?

In my opinion Ree is a phony, Ree is greedy, Ree is a magnet for attention, and Ree doesn’t give a horse’s behind for the wild ones because if she did care about the horses, that are under her care, she would NOT be a part of or partake in any activity sponsored by one of the most pro-horse slaughter organizations in the United States.  But she did.

Ree admits that she is a fraud on her own blog and Facebook:

“Finally, I shared this on Facebook but wanted to share it here too: I did not grow up in the country.  I can’t saddle a horse.  For years I thought heifer and Hereford were the same word.  And last week I delivered the keynote address to the big, annual gathering of the National Cattlemen’s Association.” 

Yipppie, I am so cool.

Former Wild Horses feeding time at the Drummond Ranch ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

You don’t need to grow up or live in the country, you don’t need to know how to saddle a horse or even live with a pony in your backyard to know the difference between what is right and wrong for these creatures.  Predatory horse slaughter for human consumption does not take place in this country so why would she run and jump right into bed with an organization that wants to sell all the wild horses off to Canada or Mexico where they would be grotesquely murdered then eaten by foreigners?  Phony or just plain stupid?  Let the reader decide but anything that will make her look 20 minutes younger or have one more person ‘friend’ her on Facebook then I guess she is all in.

This speech was her chance to speak on behalf of the horses that she uses for her advertising and promotions and she did not make any effort to step up to the plate, she blew it and proved, once again, that the horses are nothing more than dollar signs and their future and well-being are of no consequence.

How do the Drummonds fit into the Wild Horse picture?

In layman’s terms:

The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (signed unanimously by Congress with President Nixon’s sign-off) ensures that wild horses and burros can live out their lives, unmolested, on US Public lands in 9 western states under the care and watchful eye of the Bureau of Land Management a part of the Department of Interior.

Over the years the Act has been bastardized by amendments, so the Congressional rights of the wild equines have been eroded away by grazing, extraction and hunting special interests.

Now, the BLM rounds up and removes what it deems to be “excess” wild horses and burros, with little to no scientific supporting data, and warehouses them on contracted cattle ranches (like the Drummonds) while allowing private, subsidized cattle to graze on the wild horse’s former range on public lands.  All of this at tremendous expense to U.S. tax payers and the potential extinction of our wild horses and burros.

So, in my humble opinion, instead of spending tens of millions of dollars to pull wild horses and burros off of their protected land and put them on cattle farms while putting private cattle on public lands why don’t we just (wait for it) leave the wild horses on their rightful range, free, with their families and keep the cattle on the cattle ranches.

Is it really all that complicated?

 

More than 130,000 signatures to ban cruel horse evisceration fiesta in Yucatan

from Humane Society International/Mexico

Mexico City—More than 130,000 people are joining with Humane Society International Mexico in calling for a ban of Torneo del Lazo, a horse evisceration spectacle in Yucatan, Mexico.

Torneo del Lazo is a bloody and archaic spectacle that takes place throughout the year in various Yucatán municipalities. In it, horses are chased, severely injured and often killed by bulls. When the bulls attack, they usually wound the horses by gutting them. Horses experience a long and painful death in front of crowds that frequently include children as spectators.

Join us in calling for this cruelty to end.

Humane Society International launched a petition campaign to garner public opposition to the event and has been pressing for an amendment to the Yucatan Animal Protection Law to explicitly ban this horrible practice. The group delivered the 130,000 signatures in favor of banning Torneo del Lazo to the Congress President and to the Chair of the of the Environment Committee of Yucatan Congress.

Anton Aguilar, HSI Mexico director said: “95 percent of Mexicans oppose animal cruelty and believe people who harm animals should be penalized. It is particularly troubling that children are exposed to the mayhem and suffering involved. As a major touristic destination, Yucatán should not allow animal cruelty to damage the State’s image and harm the tourism industry. We urge Yucatan Congress to take a compassionate stance against this cruel tradition and reform the Yucatán Animal Protection Bill to explicitly outlaw Torneo del Lazo.” Take action now to help.

http://www.hsi.org/world/mexico/news/press-releases/2018/02/call-to-ban-torneo-del-lazo-020618.html

Stop horsing around and ban carriages

Source:  New York Daily News

                                                       End of the line (Marcus Santos)

BY , President of Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages

Everyone from the carriage-horse industry itself to onetime anti-carriage-horse crusader Bill de Blasio may want the push to eliminate the cruel industry to go away.But that’s not going to happen.

Regardless of how many Council members say they are tired of it or how much the media mocks it, animal rights advocates’ fight to free these horses from this inhumane duty on city streets is here to stay.  Last month, a carriage overturned near Central Park, dragging the horse with it — confirming the flimsiness and danger of these conveyances. (Fortunately, no one was injured.)

Recognition of animal cruelty is the issue of the 21st century.  Barcelona recently announced it will ban horse-drawn carriages; so did Guadalajara. Montreal’s mayor supports shutting down the industry there.  Even Rome is considering electric carriage replacements.

When de Blasio ran for election in 2013, his promise to ban horse-drawn carriages was front and center.  After a fierce backlash, that didn’t happen, and the humans who profit off animal suffering now think it never will.

De Blasio has won another, and a final, four years; he doesn’t have to worry about reelection.  It’s time again to talk about the horses again.

Those who operate carriages insist, as they did before, that the animals are happy, and that all regulations are strictly enforced.

That’s just not true.

Weather restrictions are generally followed, but beyond that, few are.  These rules bar, among other things, overloading carriages to leaving horses unattended and untethered while the drivers look for business — a serious safety issue because of the nervous nature of horse, which can spook at the slightest provocation, injuring or killing himself or passersby.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

Forel is president of the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages.

Breaking News: Infamous Horse Eater to Debate on Fox’s Tucker Carlson, TONIGHT

A Scary News Alert: in the most indignant opinion of R.T. Fitch

Update: POS was a no show but claims he was bumped until next week.  Let’s hope the producers realized him to be as dumb as a box of rocks and nixed his misguided moment of infamy.  https://rtfitchauthor.com/2017/12/30/horse-eating-fringe-cult-leader-bumped-from-national-news-show/#comment-205482

According to the poorly written press release, below, it appears that long time, washed-up alleged horse trainer and professed horse eater  Dave “Doink” Duquette has crawled out from underneath his slimy little rock to spew lies and deceit about how wonderful murdering and eating companion animals can be.


PROTECT THE HARVEST’S DAVE DUQUETTE TO GUEST
ON TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT SHOW
 
Hot equine debate – Friday night – Dec.29, at 8:00pm ET on Fox News
 
Brownsburg, IN. Dec. 28, 2017): Protect The Harvest’s equine expert Dave Duquette will
guest on the Tucker Carlson Tonight Show on Friday night, December 29, at 8:00pm ET. Dave
and Tucker will be talking about why Protect The Harvest (PTH), supports bringing back horse
processing in the United States.
 
Duquette explains on the show that horse processing is an essential part of many nations diets
and used to have a rich history in the United States. The return to horse processing in the US
would mean much higher welfare for horses.
 
Founded by Lucas Oil owner Forrest Lucas, PTH is a 501c3 non-profit formed in 2014 that
seeks to actively inform and communicate with the general public about issues regarding

agriculture, hunting, fishing, and animal ownership.


‘Merry Flippin Christmas to you too Doink.  Bet your mamma is proud of you…Lord knows your hometown is not.’

Dave “Doink” Duquette, alleged horse trainer and known horse eater ~ photo not taken by R.T. Fitch

Yup, according to the release and it has not been verified, Doink will be on Fox’s Tucker Carlson Show at 8 PM Eastern time, tonight, Dec. 29th.  Anyone with half a brain knows that Tucker is pretty handy at publicly making losers look as stupid as they really aspire to be so this may be Doink’s big chance to go on National TV so that his wife and children may never be able to show their faces in Walmart, again.

Doink has been working in the background ever since his equine blood engorged tick of a sidekick, Sue Wallis choked on her own lies several years ago and croaked; Karma made away with her bigot of a husband, too.  I guess there is some sort of mercy in the world that allows the likes of Doink to continue to walk among the living, perhaps it is pity for his young family that might, or might not, look to him for fiscal support.  Moral support and direction from this grade A wiener was lost long ago.

Left – “Doink” Duqquette – DUMB  Right – “Slaughterhouse” Sue Wallis – DEAD

So advocates, we only have  a few hours but let’s politely tweet, email and Facebook the facts to Mr. Tucker Carlson and give him a bit more fuel for a potential ass-chewing tonight.

You can tweet Tucker at: https://twitter.com/TuckerCarlson

Contact on Facebook at:  https://www.facebook.com/TuckerCarlsonTonight/?ref=br_rs

and: https://www.facebook.com/tuckercarlsonFOX/

 

We don’t need the likes of Duquette soiling a season meant to bring cheer and hope…enough is enough.

Feel Good Sunday (video): Humans Help Save Injured Baby Donkey

by Animal Aid Unlimited, India

“With all the madness that has enveloped the equine world, be it man-made or caused by nature, it feels good to simply sit back for a moment and watch kind gentle souls help a four legged critter in need.  We by no means endorse a particular rescue but simply thought this story was worth sharing; brings back memories closer to home of the rescue/rehab work of Marjorie Farabee, Jerry Finch, Hilary Wood, Elaine Nash and many others.

To all you human angels who tend to those who traverse this planet on 4 legs, may God bless you and keep you.  Your wingspan is greater than you may think.  Keep the faith.” ~ R.T.


Multiple CA Wildfires Take Heavy Toll on both Humans and Horses

By and   as published on The Orange County Register

“This is a tragedy that I have shied away from because of the voluminous amount of news on the subject.  Hundreds of articles are out there detailing the death and destruction with horses being killed and lost at an unprecedented rate.

But today I  decided to share this story because while reporting all of the bad news there lies within a sliver of joy, hope and happiness.  Often you have to dig deep to find something to feel good about and today is assuredly one of those days. 

Our prayers go out to those who struggle to keep themselves and those they love, safe.  May God be with you.” ~ R.T.


OCEANSIDE, CA – Fire crews stopped the Lilac’s destructive march on Friday, keeping to 4,100 acres a blaze that a day earlier had forced thousands to flee their homes, destroyed at least 105 structures and killed dozens of horses.

With the strong winds that initially drove the flames dying down overnight, fire crews were able to move from defense to offense, as aircraft dropped water on hot-spots while hand crews kept an eye out for potential flare-ups.

Despite the improved weather conditions, San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob cautioned residents to remain alert. Officials reported 15 percent containment of the fire Friday night, meaning for only that amount were they confident the flames wouldn’t jump the perimeter.

“A fire that starts in the back country can go anywhere at any time, particularly when those winds shift,” Jacob said. “We are not out of the woods yet.”

The fast-moving blaze ignited late Thursday morning. Officials estimated that around 900 people have shown up at fire shelters, while an estimated 10,000 people were evacuated at one point. The cause was unknown.

Two firefighters and four civilians were injured. It was unclear how many of the 105 structures were homes.

Flames burned through a quiet, semi-rural portion of San Diego County best known for ranches and orchards. Crews worked to keep the fire from burning west toward the larger Oceanside community or onto Camp Pendleton.

Trainers and staff at the facility cut loose some of the 450-plus horses so they could escape the flames. Dramatic video apparently recorded by a stable hand in the midst of the rescue efforts showed waves of horses running through the smoke as workers hurried to release them. Still, the California Horse Racing Board estimated 25 horses died.

Most of the survivors were trucked to the safety of the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

More than 1,000 fire personnel were dedicated to the Lilac Fire on Friday, along with more than 100 fire engines and 15 helicopters, Cal Fire spokesman Kendal Bortisser said.

“We continue to fight this fire from the air and the ground,” Bortisser said.

The Lilac fire put thousands of U.S. Marines at nearby Camp Pendleton on alert. Two military aviation strike teams were on-hand to help support firefighting efforts.

Of the 85 destroyed structures, officials were unsure how many were homes.

“There were quite a few mobile homes that were lost in the area,” San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said. “That includes senior citizens.”

Friday, residents were taking stock of the damage.

Mary Klodell, 54, was riding her bike on the San Luis Rey trail when she saw smoke in the air – sending her racing home to pack essentials before leaving the area.

“We heard crackling and popping behind us,” she said. “I was panicked and looking for my keys.”

On Friday, Klodell returned to the neighborhood, walking the ruins of some homes and finding others still intact. A neighbor told her that only a small shift in the weather saved her residence.

“He told me the wind shifted right in time, or else my house would be done now,” she said. “That’s God protecting me.”

At the Stepp Stables at Camp Pendleton, Sandrine Linglet was overwhelmed and crying tears of joy. A day earlier, seeing smoke and fire in the air, Linglet, 46, had driven to the Oceanside Equestrian Center, where she kept four mustangs.

“I could barely see, it was back and red everywhere,” Linglet recalled.

On her first trip, Linglet, who had also been forced to evacuate her Oceanside home, was able to get two mustangs into a trailer. Ignoring warnings from firefighters, she returned Thursday night to rescue a third with the help of two Marines and brought the horse back to the Pendleton stable. They were unable to corral the fourth unbroken mustang.

“I was in tears and exhausted,” Linglet said. “I felt guilty. I couldn’t believe that I left her behind.”

Linglet spent the night at Stepp Stables — partly hunkering down with the three rescued mustangs and then sitting in her car listening to news reports.

“I cried the whole night but I was sure no matter what, i would not give up,” she said. “No matter what, no matter how, I would try to get my horse.”

Just before daylight, Linglet returned to the Oceanside Equestrian Center on Friday just a few miles from the stables at Camp Pendleton. She was shocked to see her fourth mustang, Margo, standing in a field. Hours later, the four were all safe at Camp Pendleton, which lent space for evacuated steeds.

Around 11 a.m. on Thursday, James Adams smelled smoke near his 3,300 square-foot home that overlooks the San Luis Rey river valley, about eight miles from Fallbrook. He helped his wife gather paintings and other valuables and got her, two dogs and a parrot into the car.

“I didn’t want her to be here,” the 68-year-old said. “I didn’t know how fast it would come.”

By 2 p.m., the fire had consumed the house two doors away, as the wind screamed over his home. He watched as the wind and flames shifted to the south, burning five homes to the ground at the end of this street. That night, there was no electricity, but he saw an orangey sky.

He called 911 twice, alerting firefighters to fire near him. Each time, helicopters doused the flames.

“I think the fire fighters did an amazing job,” he said.

Friday afternoon, Adams was able to think about how lucky he had been.

“I’ve been putting my library together for 40 years,” he said, “it’s one of my most personal possessions.”

Other links:

Horse death toll at San Luis Rey Downs from wildfire could climb past 40

Trainer severely burned, race horses killed in California wildfires

At least 50 horses die as Southern California wildfires take ‘tragic’ toll on equestrian communities

Lilac Fire at San Luis Rey Downs takes devastating toll on horse racing community

Feel Good Sunday Video: 16-year-old boy drives through burning barn wall to save 14 trapped Clydesdale horses

source: TNK

““He busted through like Rambo and opened up the end of the stalls…”

Macon Martin, 16, is being called a hero after his quick thinking saved the lives of 14 Clydesdale horses.

The family home, located about 60 miles east of Atlanta, Georgia, was struck by lighting in the middle of the night.

“It shook the whole house,” Macon’s mother, Shannon said. “One minute I am in bed; the next minute I am standing up next to the bed trying to figure out what bomb went off.”

Without power, the family could only see by the light of a fire that quickly engulfed their horse barn. To make matters worse, the barn doors were locked and there wasn’t enough time to find the key.

“I just ran right out. I had no clothes on, no shoes, no nothing,” Macon said. Without hesitation, the heroic teen jumped into a nearby 4-wheel drive utility vehicle and drove straight through the barn wall. “I just jumped in our Gator and I just ran it right into the door,” he told local NBC affiliate WKYC Channel 3 News.

“He busted through like Rambo and opened up the end of the stalls and said, ‘Mom, this way,’” Shannon said. “And we were able to push the horses out that way.”

All 14 horses made it out unharmed, but the barn was a total loss. “It will take some time to rebuild,” Shannon said. “This was a dream. We saved and built it brick by brick. We’ll have to start over.”

Hear more about Macon’s heroic act in the news video below…Click on Image to View

http://www.thenewskiller.com/2017/11/11/16-year-old-boy-drives-burning-barn-wall-save-14-trapped-clydesdale-horses/

Wild Horse & Burro Slaughter Endorser, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Is Embroiled In More Than One Scandal

by as published on ThinkProgress.org

“It started with trying to legalize horse slaughter plants in his home state and has only gone down hill from there…”

Dinky Zinke asks; “Filly Fillet in this hand and Bucking Bronc Burger in this hand, which would you pick?”

A controversial contract benefiting a small company based in his hometown is only the latest possible corruption scandal linked to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has come under fire for his spending habits as well as his connections to special interests and potential misuse of campaign funds.

On Monday, nonprofit watchdog group the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) accused Zinke’s dormant congressional campaign of dodging rules prohibiting individuals from converting political donations into individual revenue. According to an official Federal Election Commission complaint, the campaign allegedly purchased an RV from Zinke’s wife, then sold it to a friend at a steeply discounted price a year later, lowering the car’s price from $59,100 to $25,000. The recipient, Ed Buttrey, is a Montana state senator rumored to be in the running to be nominated Interior assistant secretary.

The CLC cited the RV sale along with Zinke’s earlier hotel stays in the Virgin Islands and New York — trips he took on the Interior Department’s dime — as possible efforts to skirt federal contribution campaign rules.

“When you combine the disregard for campaign finance laws when Zinke was a candidate with the disregard that Zinke as Interior secretary has shown for the ethics laws, you certainly get a picture of an individual who may not be taking his responsibilities as an officeholder seriously,” said Brendan Fischer, who submitted the complaint on behalf of the CLC.

Zinke’s other ethical close-calls, as the CLC noted, are plentiful.

Last week, a two-person for-profit private company from Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Montana secured a $300 million contract to help rebuild Puerto Rico. The U.S. territory has struggled for over a month following a devastating hurricane and much of the island stills lacks access to power and water. But many officials questioned the decision to award Whitefish Energy Holdings the contract and even the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) criticized the deal. The company eventually lost the contract amid “significant concerns” about its ability to adequately perform necessary relief work, as well as increasing scrutiny and calls from Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, to cancel the deal. An audit of the deal is underway on both a federal and local level.

Zinke has denied any connection to the contract, blaming the growing scandal on coastal elitism and a bias against small towns.

“I had absolutely nothing to do with Whitefish Energy receiving a contract in Puerto Rico,” the interior secretary wrote in a statement on Friday.

“Any attempts by the dishonest media or political operatives to tie me to awarding of influencing any contract involving Whitefish [Energy Holdings] are completely baseless,” Zinke continued. “Only in elitist Washington, D.C., would being from a small town be considered a crime.”

But the Whitefish controversy has very little to do with the small town roots of Whitefish Energy Holdings and far more to do with alarm over possible corruption. Zinke has been connected to a number of other scandals — many of them ongoing and drawing increasing scrutiny.

As the overseer of approximately 500 million acres across the United States, Zinke plays a crucial role in crafting President Trump’s domestic climate policy. Under Trump’s budget, the Department of the Interior faces steep cuts, including an 80 percent reduction in funding for climate efforts.

Zinke himself has taken an apathetic approach to climate change and environmental protection on a broader level. He has called the Paris climate agreement — signed by virtually every country in the world apart from embattled Syria — a “badly negotiated deal” and has supported Trump’s decision to leave the landmark decision. He has also questioned the impact of climate change — claiming that “no models” exist proving the phenomenon’s impact on the planet — and sought to heavily downsize national monuments, despite outcry from activists and indigenous tribes.

As a Montana congressman, Zinke took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from oil and gas companies, many of whom drill on the same public lands he now oversees. Zinke received a total of $345,000 between 2013 and 2017 from donors like these, with one oil-and-gas executive giving the now-secretary as much as $11,600, according to Federal Election Commission data. These numbers have caused many to worry Zinke’s stances are being shaped by oil, gas, and coal lobbyists, as well as by climate skeptics more generally.

The secretary’s lavish trips are also alarming watchdog groups. This summer, Zinke took a $12,375 chartered flight from Las Vegas to an area near his Montana home, when a commercial equivalent would have cost around $300. That trip was aboard a private plane owned by a Wyoming oil-and-gas exploration firm, once again concerning climate activists.

In March, Zinke also took a taxpayer-funded trip to the aforementioned U.S. Virgin Islands, where he attended a Republican Party fundraiser and donors paid up to $5,000 per couple for a photo with the secretary. That event was one of many Zinke attended with major donors and other political figures on Interior Department-funded trips, according to documents reviewed by Politico.

Earlier this month, 26 House Democrats wrote in a letter that Zinke’s trips “give the appearance that you are mixing political gatherings and personal destinations with official business.” Other figures have also expressed concern — Zinke’s Virgin Islands trip, which are mentioned in its complaint, attracted CLC’s attention three weeks ago.

“This activity constitutes impermissible solicitation of political contributions if event organizers conditioned the opportunity to take a photograph with Secretary Zinke on paying a higher fee,” CLC’s senior director for ethics, Walter Shaub, wrote to the Justice Department’s Office of Special Council. Shaub requested a Hatch Act investigation in order to determine whether Zinke violated rules restricting federal employees from partisan political events and dealings.

Monday’s complaint comes amid a Special Counsel investigation into Zinke’s spending habits, as well as a separate investigation opened by Interior Department’s inspector general.

Audits into Puerto Rico’s canceled contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings are also ongoing.

https://thinkprogress.org/zinke-scandals-papertrail-26c2e725f345/

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