Boating executives ‘surprised’ at Interior Secretary’s resignation

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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (left) appointing Correct Craft CEO Bill Yeargin to the Outdoor Recreation Council.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (left) appointing Correct Craft CEO Bill Yeargin to the Outdoor Recreation Council.

Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke submitted his resignation to President Trump on Dec. 15. The Washington Post reported that Zinke blamed his departure on “vicious and politically motivated attacks.”

“I love working for the President and am incredibly proud of all the good work we’ve accomplished together,” Zinke tweeted. “However, after 30 years of public service, I cannot justify spending thousands of dollars defending myself and my family against false allegations.”

Despite the political turmoil surrounding his departure, Zinke was liked by boating industry executives.

“Secretary Zinke has been a strong advocate for outdoor recreation,” Thom Dammrich, National Marine Manufacturers Association president, told Trade Only Today. “We hope his successor will also be a strong advocate for outdoor recreation and will continue his efforts to eliminate the maintenance backlog on interior lands and provide quality access to public lands for all Americans.”

Zinke established an Outdoor Recreation Council last spring, comprising members of his department and different interests in the outdoor recreation industry. Correct Craft CEO Bill Yeargin was appointed vice chairman of the council.

“I was surprised by the announcement of Secretary Zinke’s resignation,” Yeargin told Trade Only Today. “When I was with Secretary Zinke, he was always interested in how we could expand outdoor recreation in ways that benefited all Americans. Just last week we submitted our first recommendation letter to Secretary Zinke. I hope his successor will be equally committed to encouraging outdoor recreation for all Americans.”

The White House said it would name a successor this week. David Bernhardt, Interior Deputy Secretary, was named as a possible replacement. The Post also named outgoing Sen. Dean Heller and Representatives Raúl R. Labrador, Jeff Denham, Cathy McMorris Rogers and Rob Bishop as candidates for the position.

During his time as secretary, Zinke came under 15 investigations. He was cleared in several but is still facing ethics allegations about a real estate deal in his home state of Montana. He also is facing questions about the use of private airplanes while in office.

The Department of Interior’s inspector general referred one of the inquiries to the Justice Department in October. The Post reported that Zinke was the most likely cabinet member to face Congressional investigations when Democrats take over the House of Representatives next year. The White House gave Zinke until the end of the year to resign or be fired.

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