Grijalva: Zinke Threats Against Alaska Over Trumpcare Vote Raise Ethical Questions, Threaten Environment

Jul 27, 2017

Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) – Advisory Board Member PDA – Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s willingness to deliver threats against the state of Alaska, in retaliation for Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-Alaska) principled stance against Trumpcare, was an alarming sign of how far the administration’s ethical standards have fallen and how irresponsible the Interior Department has become. Grijalva plans to request a formal investigation later today.

As Alaska Dispatch News first reported early this morning, “Early Wednesday, Trump took to Twitter to express displeasure with Murkowski’s vote. By that afternoon, each of Alaska’s two Republican senators had received a phone call from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke letting them know the vote had put Alaska’s future with the administration in jeopardy.”

“Running a department of the federal government means you serve the American people as a protector of their rights and freedoms,” Grijalva said. “It doesn’t mean you serve the president as a bag man for his political vendettas. Threatening to punish your rivals as political blackmail is something we’d see from the Kremlin. Secretary Zinke’s willingness to deliver these threats speaks volumes about his ethical standards and demonstrates that Interior’s policy positions are up for political grabs, rather than based on science or the public interest.”

Conditioning presidential support for Murkowski’s bill to force a road through Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge on her support for Trumpcare is particularly ironic. Alaska’a other senator, Republican Dan Sullivan, confirmed the threats to the Dispatch, which noted that the road is among Murkowski’s highest legislative priorities.

“Even if this road provides health care access to hundreds, which is very much in doubt, Secretary Zinke thinks the price to build it is a vote to deny health care access to millions,” Grijalva said.

Murkowski chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Zinke’s threats put her clout in jeopardy and call into question which other lawmakers might face similar retribution.

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