Inter Lake too tough on Zinke?

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I am not for wasteful government spending, but does the Daily Inter Lake need to parrot the Associated Press’s repeated assaults on Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s air transportation spending ... and putting this garbage on the front page? After the liberal media got rid of HHS secretary Tom Price for using excessive charter flights, I’m sure they figure this is a way to get rid of most of the president’s Cabinet, not that any Democrats ever abused this privilege!

After attacking Mr. Zinke for a private late-night flight from Nevada to Montana to (oh the horror of it) spend a night at home before giving a talk the next day at the Western Governors Association (am I the only resident of the Flathead that has trouble finding an abundance of flights into our airport), they are now attacking him for, among other crimes, using a helicopter to view roughly a million acres of National Monuments in Nevada under consideration for delisting. I suppose he could have done the tour on horseback, though that would not give an overview of the area and might have taken just a bit more time from his schedule. The other cited transgressions were for using helicopters to get to a few official events such as a tour of a battlefield followed by a horseback ride with the vice president and a senator.

As I recall, when Nancy Pelosi was speaker of the House, Judicial Watch had to use a Freedom of Information request to get records of her plane expenses, including requests for a larger military aircraft for “security” reasons so she could go home to California on weekends without refueling. Seems she also booked Air Force aircraft for virtually every weekend only to cancel many of them at the last minute just so she could have them available if she actually decided to go home. But, heck, the airlines let all members of Congress book multiple flights so they can leave when they want with no penalty for cancellations. I wonder if I could do that with a commercial airline at no cost to me? Members of Congress can!

On one of Pelosi’s “official” congressional trips to the Middle East on-board expenses included Johnny Walker scotch, Grey Goose vodka, E & J brandy, Bailey’s Irish whiskey, Maker’s Mark whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Bacardi light rum, Jim Beam whiskey, Beefeater gin, Dewars scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, Jack Daniels whiskey, Corona beer and a selection of wines. Sounds like Democrat Congressman Grijalva must have been on that flight (he paid a staffer $48,000 to shut her up after she accused him of repeatedly being drunk at work resulting in a hostile work environment)!

Seems to me, the entire travel scheme in Washington costs the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more. Not to mention the political appearances at fund raisers that always seem to be tagged onto an “official” function so the taxpayers instead of the politicians get to pay for all their expenses. Isn’t it time to place some restrictions on politicians’ ability to milk the taxpayers for every conceivable creature comfort while knocking down $174,000 a year in salary and becoming millionaires through connections and insider trading? Aren’t they supposed to be doing OUR business? Do we really need to pay for: subsidized on-site restaurants, free airport parking, a free on-site gym (which was kept open during the last government shutdown while D.C. monuments were closed), health-care subsidies, and a free barbershop and salon on-site? How did all these perks get added? Oh, that’s right, they voted for them for themselves. Just like they voted to get themselves out of Obamacare.

So perhaps a small part of Mr. Zinke’s travel could have been accomplished by ground transportation rather than helicopter, but the majority of trips listed seemed reasonable to me. I suppose these attacks are to be expected by the liberal press ... after all, Secretary Zinke is proceeding with a reasonable approach to return management of our national lands to some semblance of sanity by delisting excessive set asides for national monuments, opening up reasonable areas to natural resource development and actually managing our forests to decrease fire risks and provide productive logging development on overgrown, burned or beetle infested areas. But does the Inter Lake have to put the mostly baseless attack on Mr. Zinke on their front page instead of burying it inside as the drive-bys do with anti-liberal scandals? How about protecting one of our own who is actually doing a good job, Mr. Miele?

P. David Myerowitz is a resident of Columbia Falls.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Managing Editor Frank Miele points out that running an Associated Press story does not mean the Inter Lake agrees with its reporting. Our goal is to keep our readers informed; the investigations into Mr. Zinke’s travel raised legitimate questions which our readers have a right to know about. Because Zinke is a resident of Whitefish, his actions receive particular attention in the Inter Lake and are often featured on Page A1.)

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