Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is Embroiled in More Than One Scandal

by E.A. Crunden – The Trump administration official just got slammed with yet another questionable allegation. 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...

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Puerto Rico’s Governor is Pushing to Have Whitefish Energy’s $300 Million Contract Revoked

by Adam Peck – There are too many unanswered questions. On Sunday, NBC News reported that Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló has asked the board of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to cancel their contract with Whitefish Energy. It’s now been over a month since Hurricane Maria knocked out power across the entire island of Puerto Rico, and thousands of residents are still struggling to keep the lights on. So when a mainland U.S.-based energy company stepped forward to offer their services to help restore power to the island—for a price of approximately $300 million—the local power authority agreed. But almost immediately, the contract raised red flags. The company—Whitefish Energy Holdings, based in Whitefish, Montana—was not some large corporation with hundreds of experienced employees who could quickly deploy to Puerto Rico, but a tiny 2-man operation with annual revenues of $1 million. What’s more, the company appeared to have close ties to Trump...

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Secretary Zinke Attacks ‘dishonest media’ or Asking Questions About Shady Whitefish Energy Contract

by Natasha Geiling – “Only in elitist Washington, D.C., would being from a small town be considered a crime.” A two-person Montana energy company based in the hometown of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is raising eyebrows after securing a $300 million no-bid contract to restore electricity to Puerto Rico. The island remains largely without power in the wake of Hurricane Maria. The firm’s connection to both Zinke and President Trump has set off alarm bells for both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, some of whom have called for an investigation into potential conflicts of interest between the utility and the administration. On Friday, Zinke fired back at critics, blaming the “dishonest media” and “political operatives” for attempting to tie him to the contract. He called the allegations “baseless” and claimed that he had no contact with the company after the contract was awarded. “Only in elitist Washington, D.C., would being from a small town...

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Contract Awarded to the Interior Secretary’s Friend’s Company is Exempt from Government Audits

by Eric Boehm – Oh, okay. The federal government has awarded a tiny Montana company a $300 million no-bid contract to repair Puerto Rico’s hurricane-wrecked electrical grid. The company, Whitefish Energy, has close ties to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. A copy of that contract leaked last night, and it seems to prohibit the federal government from auditing Whitefish’s work and to shield other details of the company’s efforts from being disclosed via open records laws. “In no event,” the contract says, will the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Comptroller General of the United States, “or any of their authorized representatives have the right to audit or review the cost and profit elements” of the deal. The contract was posted online by Ken Klippenstein, a contributor to The Daily Beast, the first publication to report on the connections between the company and the secretary of the interior. Ken Klippenstein   ✔@kenklippenstein Replying...

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Tiny Company From Zinke’s Hometown Gets $300 Million Contract to Rebuild Puerto Rico’s Power Grid

by  Mark Sumner – In the midst of the disaster in Puerto Rico, it appears that someone may engaged in graft as large as the hurricane that hit the island. Like other electrical utilities, the state-owned Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority has multiple mutual-aid agreements with other utilities. It can call on these agreements for help in repairing the power grid in an emergency. These are the same kind of arrangements that allowed utilities in Florida to get power there restored so quickly following the passage of Irma. But even though 79 percent of the island remains without power, PREPA  isn’t calling on those agreements. A constellation of companies, including those controlled by Tesla’s Elon Musk, have offered to work with Puerto Rico to transform the island into a model for the nation using a series of micro-grids, distributed solar, and local storage. The resulting system would be clean, flexible, and resistant to large-scale...

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The Trump Admin Auctioned Off an Imperiled Bird Habitat to Oil Companies for a Whopping $14,837

by Jen Hayden – The Trump administration has auctioned off acres of habitat for the sage-grouse, which narrowly missed making the endangered species list after an extensive plan to preserve the bird’s habitat took effect during the Obama administration. Which, naturally means Trump is dead set marching back the progress. From Westwise: Sage-grouse, a chicken-sized bird once widespread in the West, have seen their populations drop dramatically in recent years, thanks in part to oil and gas development. In an effort to keep the sage-grouse off the endangered species list — a move that would limit all forms of development throughout the region — ranchers, conservationists, Western governors and the Obama administration spent years working on collaborative plans to help the species rebound. Widely hailed as a success, the plans resulted in former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announcing that the sage-grouse would avoid the endangered species list. Unfortunately, this success story is under assault. Citing...

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Interior Watchdog Checking into Zinke’s Threats to Alaska Senators

by Joan McCarter – Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) dissenting vote to torpedo Trumpcare did not go over well down the street at the White House. Popular vote loser Donald Trump took his ire out in tweets, as usual, but also by siccing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke after her, indirectly. Zinke called Murkowski and the other Alaska senator, Dan Sullivan, suggesting that Alaska might not do so well in the future with a Trump administration. That phone call has netted the administration yet another investigation. The Interior Department’s Office of the Inspector General has launched a “preliminary investigation” into Secretary Ryan Zinke after he reportedly threatened Alaska senators last week in an attempt to get them to support an Obamacare repeal push.Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) sent a letter to the Inspector General on July 27, asking the office to look into Zinke’s calls to Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Dan Sullivan...

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100 Days of Deconstruction: Part 3

by STEVEN HARPER – Across the federal government, Trump is determining the country’s fate. The first 100 days of deconstruction set the stage for 1,360 that will follow. Trump promised to be a transformational leader. It wasn’t an idle threat. He has assembled an unprecedented governmental wrecking crew. This is the third installment on Trump’s a unique combination of kleptocracy and kakistocracy that is reshaping America in ways that most of voters won’t like. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Don’t let the symbolic American missile strike on a Syrian airfield, dropping the “Mother of All Bombs” on tunnels in Afghanistan or threats directed at North Korea distract from a central fact: Trump is Putin’s President. Former ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson is a player in the resulting saga. After Trump announced his choice for secretary of state, former Russian Energy Minister Vladimir Milov said that Tillerson was a “gift for...

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Trump Taps Rep. Ryan Zinke for Interior, Adds Another Climate Denier to the Cabinet

by Samantha Page – Zinke’s nomination could be great news for big fossil fuel interests. Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) has been asked to be Secretary of the Interior, according to Politico. The nomination comes on the heels of massive outcry over the incoming Trump administration’s rumored pick of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), who has introduced legislation to sell off public lands. Zinke has called himself a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist and has said that “selling off our public lands is a non-starter.” But in June he still voted for a bill that would have transferred 4 million acres of public lands to states. Zinke is also yet another climate denier to be named to Trump’s cabinet — although he has been considerably more circumspect than some other members of Congress, or the president-elect for that matter. “It’s not a hoax, but it’s not proven science either,” Zinke has said. “But you don’t dismantle...

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Hillary Clinton Called the ‘Anti-Christ’ by Republican Candidate

By PBSpot Admin February 3, 2014 Ryan Zinke is a former Navy SEAL and state senator who is running for Congress in Montana. During a campaign stop last week he said that Hillary Clinton is the “real threat” to the nation.  “We need to focus on the real enemy,” Zinke said last Monday. According to the Bigfork Eagle, Zinke also said that Hillary is the “anti-Christ.” Zinke is running to fill the seat of Representative Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who himself is trying to fill the seat of Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.).   As a former Navy SEAL, while still serving in the Legislature, Zinke launched a super PAC called Special Operations for America which was created for the purposes of opposing President Barack Obama.  “Navy SEALs, Special Operations Personnel and Veterans across America have been outraged since Barack Obama conveniently took credit for killing Osama Bin Laden for political gain,” the group announced, after...

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