News & Politics

Interior Secretary Zinke Accuses Dem Congressmen of 'Drunk and Hostile Behavior'

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke speaks to members of the media outside the White House in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, file)

Arizona Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva wrote an op-ed in USA Today on Friday calling on Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke to resign. Zinke has been under fire for alleged ethics violations and Grijalva wants him gone.

His policy direction at Interior is equally unfortunate. He has overseen the dumbing down of science, often with a partisan edge. On his watch, rather than advancing their agencies’ multiple-use mission for public lands, many on staff spend their days relaxing environmental and permitting standards for fossil fuel companies. They are forced to remove mentions of humans’ climate change impacts from official reports.

They are instructed, above all, to make President Donald Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda the sole guiding principle of environmental policy, regardless of the consequences. That’s even though the giveaways it entails are so extreme that a spokeswoman for the pro-industry Western Energy Alliance once said they exceeded even her funders’ wildest expectations.

I’d want Zinke to resign too — if any of that was true. Alas, Rep. Grijalva must have been in his cups when he wrote that, as Mr. Zinke was kind enough to point out.

Fox News:

In a remarkably scathing Twitter post, Zinke referenced past news reports that Grijalva in 2015 paid a female aide on Capitol Hill nearly $50,000 in a taxpayer-funded settlement after she complained about his drinking and office environment.

Zinke also tweeted “#TuneInnForMore,” an apparent reference to the Tune Inn, a popular Capitol Hill bar Grijalva has been known to frequent.

Washington is a small town and everyone knows everyone else’s business. They all know who the drunks are, who the womanizers and cheaters are, so it’s no surprise that Grijalva, who frequently shows up drunk for work, would be targeted by Zinke for ridicule.

Grijalva did not take kindly to Zinke’s remarks:

Grijalva spokesman Adam Sarvana added in a statement to Fox News: “Rep. Grijalva does not work while drunk and does not create a hostile workplace environment.”

So, maybe he’s not drunk. Just a little tipsy. Perhaps before the next committee hearing where Zinke will be testifying, the secretary could demand a breathalyzer test of Grijalva and settle the issue.

That next hearing will probably see Grijalva as chairman of the Natural Resources Committee. That does not bode well for Zinke, who has received qualified support from the president, but whose ethics problems continue to mount.