The former director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, called out Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke this weekend for retweeting an attack on outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia over the company’s fight to protect national monuments in Utah.
On Friday, Zinke shared a tweet accusing the company of lying about its efforts to protect the national monuments in order to boost profits.
“A corporate giant hijacking our public lands debate to sell more products to wealthy elitist urban dwellers from New York to San Francisco,” the tweet stated.
Shaub called the retweet “wildly inappropriate” and a misuse of the interior secretary’s “official position.” He said it was an effort to prevent the company and its employees from exercising their First Amendment rights.
Zinke’s retweet follows a lawsuit filed by Patagonia this week over President Donald Trump’s announcement that he will reduce Bears Ears National Monument—established in December 2016 by the Obama administration—by 85%, or more than 1 million acres, according to the Associated Press.
“The lawsuit, filed in conjunction with a rock climbing advocacy group and other organizations, is among a flurry of lawsuits that have been filed over Trump’s move to reduce the size of Bears Ears and also cut the land protected in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in half,” AP reported.
Zinke’s attacks on the company began on Tuesday, after Patagonia replaced its website home page with a black screen and a message stating, “The President Stole Your Land.” The tweet Zinke shared on Friday is a jab at the company’s website message. Zinke also had earlier accused Patagonia of lying.
The interior secretary already is under fire for spending thousands of dollars on government helicopters last summer to travel around the nation’s capital with his staff. On one trip, which cost $6,250, Zinke took a Park Police helicopter to go horseback riding in Virginia with Vice President Mike Pence, Splinter’s Eleanor Sheehan reported on Thursday.
Zinke already was being investigated by the Interior Department’s inspector general over previous chartered flights.