The Associated Press reports:
Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has a new job: a more than $100,000-a-year post with a gold-mining firm that’s pursuing project approvals involving the federal agency that Zinke left fewer than four months ago.
Zinke told The Associated Press on Tuesday that his work for Nevada-based U.S. Gold Corp., which focuses on mining exploration and development, would not constitute lobbying. But that company’s CEO cited Zinke’s “excellent relationship” with the Bureau of Land Management and the Interior Department in explaining his hiring.
A 2017 executive order by President Donald Trump says executive-branch appointees cannot lobby their former agency for at least five years after leaving their government post. Separately, criminal statutes impose one and two-year bans on various kinds of communications between senior federal officials and their former agency, said Virginia Canter, chief ethics counsel of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit ethics-watchdog.
Zinke, who resigned late last year in an ethics scandal, claims it’s not lobbying as long as he doesn’t “talk to anybody on the executive side.” Whatever that’s supposed to mean.