A Democratic congressman is calling for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to apologize for comments indicating that nearly one-third of employees at his department are not loyal to him and President Donald Trump.
Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona says Zinke should “apologize to the public servants he is supposed to be leading.”
Grijalva, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, said that as a former Navy SEAL, Zinke “should be well aware that loyalty is earned. And you don’t earn it — or deserve it — with divisive comments like these.”
Zinke got an earful from an upper chamber Democrat, too.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, R-Wash., the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also rebuked Zinke on Tuesday.
“Secretary’s Zinke’s comments yesterday betray a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of federal civil service,” Cantwell said. “They are non-political employees charged with implementing and enforcing laws passed by Congress and have incredible domain expertise in their areas of responsibility.”
Zinke said Monday he knew when he took over the 70,000-employee department that, “I got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag.” Zinke said Interior has “good people,” but needs clear direction.
In a speech to an oil industry group, Zinke compared Interior to a pirate ship that captures “a prized ship at sea and only the captain and the first mate row over” to finish the mission.