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From Congress To K Street: Zinke Takes Up Post At Washington Lobbying Firm

Photo of Ryan Zinke.
Gage Skidmore
Flickr Creative Commons

Former U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke might be the first member of President Trump’s cabinet to join a lobbying firm after leaving office.

But he also might be dogged by the cloud of ethics questions he left behind after resigning from the agency at the beginning of January.

“Zinke has some credibility issues,” said Tim LaPira, a political science professor at James Madison University and author of the book Revolving Door Lobbying. “The thing that lobbyists rely on most is not who they know. But it is their reputation for being credible and honest brokers.”

While a member of the Trump administration, Zinke signed an ethics pledge barring him from lobbying the executive branch for five years. But, according to Politico, E&E News, and others, Zinke and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski have been hired as senior advisors by the Republican group Turnberry Solutions.

Turnberry Solutions’ past clientshave included veterans organizations, cellular companies and the bitcoin mining industry.

Politico reported Zinke would work on energy and defense issues.

Zinke is a former Navy SEAL and congressman from Montana. LaPira said this may give him special access to the Capitol Hill lawmakers.

“[Former] members of Congress continue to have what are called ‘floor privileges,’” he said. “They can literally walk into the Republican or Democratic cloakroom — which is right off the floor of the House — and they may be present on the floor without getting any special permission.”

Politico reportsZinke is the first member of Trump’s cabinet to join a lobbying firm after leaving. But a recent analysis from the news organization ProPublica shows that more than 30 other members of the administration have already done so.

Nate Hegyi is the Utah reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, based at KUER. He covers federal land management agencies, indigenous issues, and the environment. Before arriving in Salt Lake City, Nate worked at Yellowstone Public Radio, Montana Public Radio, and was an intern with NPR's Morning Edition. He received a master's in journalism from the University of Montana.
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