(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
This past weekend, President Trump announced that embattled Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will leave his post at the end of 2018. Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy issues the following statement in response to Sec. Zinke’s resignation, which follows months of investigations:
“Ryan Zinke is exiting the Trump Administration the way he entered it: dogged by scandal. He leaves in his wake a corrupt legacy of selling out America’s public lands to favored industry interests, making it easier for the Trump sons and their trophy hunter friends to slaughter endangered animals for sport, and prioritizing his own private helicopter rides over wildfire management. We’ve sued the Trump Administration to fight many of Zinke’s unlawful actions, and will maintain the same vigilance against his likely successor, Interior Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt — another Trump appointee who repeatedly puts industry profits over the interests of the American people.”
Anne Harkavy, Executive Director, Democracy Forward
Democracy Forward has taken the Trump Administration to court on numerous occasions, including a number of lawsuits against the Department of Interior under the direction of Secretary Zinke:
- Creating the illegal “Royalty Policy Committee” in violation of federal transparency laws, in an effort to relieve fossil fuel companies from their obligation to pay a fair value to taxpayers for public mineral rights;
- Unlawfully establishing the deceptively-named “International Wildlife Conservation Council,” a secretive panel whose members possess both personal and financial interests in the trophy hunting that the Council is designed to promote;
- Failing to release documents revealing whether Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt has complied with ethics requirements;
- Stonewalling the public release of records detailing how the Department selected the members of its industry-laden “Made in America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee;
- Hiding the ways in which grantmaking has been politicized under an unqualified political nominee, during the Department’s unprecedented attacks against its own scientists.
In addition, while investigating Sec. Zinke’s reported threats to revoke funding from the state of Alaska in retaliation for Senator Murkowski’s vote against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Democracy Forward uncovered the Secretary’s use of nearly $40,000 in wildfire preparedness funds to pay for private helicopter rides while wildfires raged across the West Coast last year.