Grijalva: Ironic That Zinke Now Spends Public Money to Boost Trophy Hunting While His Wife’s Client Broke Hunting Permit Laws

Washington, D.C. – In the wake of today’s news that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is forming a new federal advisory committee to promote trophy hunting overseas, Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said that Zinke should drop the project and focus on overseeing hunting regulations here in the United States – including the permitting laws his wife’s political client, Troy Downing, stands accused of violating in Zinke’s home state of Montana.

Grijalva and the staff of the Natural Resources Committee released a report titled “Missing the Mark” in June of 2016 documenting the environmental destructiveness of trophy hunting and the many areas in which oversight of the industry is lacking, especially in popular African hunting destinations. Rather than implementing the report’s recommendations or other reforms, Zinke announced that he will form a federal advisory committee to promote trophy hunting as a conservation activity, despite the almost complete lack of evidence that trophy hunting promotes conservation in most areas.

“The Trump administration is a government for rich playboys and well-connected scofflaws, not average Americans,” Grijalva said today. “This committee will spend taxpayer money to promote the destructive hobby of millionaires like the dentist who shot a beloved lion in Zimbabwe in 2015. Secretary Zinke needs to spend more time worrying about hunting here in the United States, especially considering the trouble his wife’s client seems to have buying legal permits.”

Zinke’s wife, Lola, works for the campaign of Montana Senate candidate Troy Downing, who is running to unseat Sen. Jon Tester (D) next year. According to the Associated Press:

Downing filed income taxes as a non-resident during at least two years when he bought resident hunting or fishing licenses, 2013 and 2014, according to an affidavit in a search warrant application submitted by a state game warden in April.

He paid his taxes as a full-year Montana resident in 2015, the affidavit said.

Authorities say Downing illegally bought licenses each year from 2011 to 2016, illegally loaned an elk license to another hunter, and helped his adult son obtain a 2015 Montana resident license even though the son had a California driver's license.

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