Senior DOI official offers full-throated denunciation of Zinke’s disloyalty remarks
Many of the Interior Department’s 70,000 employees were outraged when their leader, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, recently said that 30 percent of them are “not loyal to the flag.” But while the vast majority of them suffered in silence, Joel Clement, until recently the department’s top climate change official, took to Twitter. “Civil servants are loyal to the flag and also know a demagogue when they see one,” he tweeted. Clement also retweeted negative comments from others about Zinke’s speech in late September to the National Petroleum Council, an Energy Department advisory group comprised largely of industry representatives.
Current and former federal employees and others who heard and read Zinke’s comment interpreted it two ways. Some thought he meant the U.S. flag. To others the “flag” represented Zinke’s leadership of the department. Clement said that as a longtime Navy Seal, Zinke should understand the serious connotation of his words. “I think he is so arrogant that he thinks his special interest agenda is the same as what’s best for America. He is bought and paid for by oil and gas and political ambition.”