What They Voted For: Swampstyle

#DrainTheSwamp | #WhatTheyVotedFor

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

Ital Vardi brings this wonderful bit of news for the Huffington Post:

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is a shareholder in a private Montana company that manufactures and sells firearms and advanced weapons materials, a financial interest he did not disclose when nominated last year.

In response to inquiries from HuffPost, both Zinke and the company, PROOF Research Inc., confirmed the secretary’s holdings, though the dollar value placed on them varied. This previously undisclosed holding comes to light after numerous decisions in his first year in office that benefited the hunting and gun industries.

PROOF Research Inc. was first established in 2011 in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, Montana, under the name Extreme Precision Armaments Inc., according to state of Montana business records. The company specializes in the production of lightweight rifles with high-precision carbon fiber barrels for hunting and military applications and was born as a merger of four smaller firearms and gun parts companies. It later changed its name to PROOF Research Inc. and moved to the nearby town of Columbia Falls.

According to the company’s website, its facility in Columbia Falls produces “the world’s finest composite barrels, stocks, and complete rifles.” A second facility in Dayton, Ohio, makes specialized high-temperature composite materials for the aerospace and defense industries, including components for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and B-2 stealth bomber.

Obvious questions present themselves, but there is also something inherently clownish about the brazen stupidity of the omission, and given everything else, Steve Benen’s point last week, that the “Interior Secretary can’t seem to stay out of trouble”, resonates anew. There is also some impulse to raise an eyebrow at the seeming strangeness of a small firearms firm with such specialized defense-industry pedigree.

There is, however, another question: Why is it always Whitefish?

(It isn’t, but still.)

____________________

Image note: U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

Benen, Steve. “Trump’s Interior secretary can’t seem to stay out of trouble”. msnbc. 17 January 2018.

Khimm, Suzy. “FEMA nominee who withdrew helps win $133M Puerto Rico hurricane contract”. NBC News. 17 January 2018.

Newkirk II, Vann R. “The Puerto Rico Power Scandal Expands”. The Atlantic. 3 November 2017.

Posner, Liz. “Why Is a Small Montana Town a Hotbed of Far-Right Activity?” AlterNet. 27 December 2017.

Vardi, Ital. “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Held Onto Undisclosed Shares In Gun Company”. The Huffington Post. 22 January 2018.

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