SNOWBIRD: Why, a reader asks, would someone running for Congress in Montana be campaigning in Santa Barbara? And posting campaign signs around town?
I couldn’t reach Ryan Zinke, a Republican running for Montana’s sole Congressional seat, but I did learn that Hope Ranch officials took down his signs posted after a fundraiser there. No permit, and you know how Republicans hate getting permits. I spotted some signs at the harbor, too.
It seems that Zinke is something of a character up there, having termed former secretary of state Hillary Clinton the “anti-Christ.” He later took it back, sort of, as a bit “too harsh.” Whether he made the same accusation at the Hope Ranch affair, I don’t know.
According to Santa Barbarans I’ve talked to, Zinke gets his Santa Barbara credentials by being married to the daughter of Fred Hand, Lolita. Hand was a well-known Santa Barbara businessman in the ’60s and has a street named after him. Zinke and his wife have three children. How much time they spend in Santa Barbara isn’t clear.
Zinke, 52, a former Navy SEAL who retired in 2008, is an ex-Montana state senator, loser in a race for lieutenant governor, and under fire for questionable use of a fundraising super PAC.
According to the Montana Missoulian, he raised more money than any other House candidate through December 31, much of it from executives and employees associated with billionaire William P. Foley II’s Florida-based Fidelity National Financial. Foley is a part-time Montana resident and former Santa Barbaran with extensive grape fields in the Santa Ynez Valley.
In 2011, Zinke voted for a medical marijuana bill that became law over then-governor Brian Schweitzer’s veto.
International Business Times headlined a story about Zinke’s 2012 anti-Obama PAC “The Navy SEAL Who Hates the President.” The Billings Gazette reports that two groups have filed a Federal Election Commission complaint that Zinke violated the law by his too-creative use of the PAC. According to Mother Jones magazine, Zinke raised more than $100,000. But when Obama won reelection, Zinke quit the PAC, handed over control to another SEAL (wink and a nod), announced his House campaign, and used the PAC to raise campaign funds.
The issue seems to be uncharted waters, and the complaint remains unresolved. Zinke denies doing anything wrong.
Intelligent Discontent, a Montana blog, echoes other claims that Zinke left the SEALS “under suspicion of ethics violations.”
“There were ethics issues around his travel,” a former Navy SEAL and senior Defense Department official told the blog BuzzFeed’s Michael Hastings. “He was using government travel to visit his home in Montana. He got caught. That’s why he left the SEALs.” According to Intelligent Discontent, “Zinke did not contest the allegation, but suggested that the travel dispute is hardly a major blot on his service record.” Zinke said he was just trying to set up SEAL training in Montana.
A DIME A TREE: Former Santa Barbara mayor Hal Conklin dropped by The Santa Barbara Independent’s Earth Day booth, talking about a nonprofit he’s working with. Eden Projects has planted more than 72 million trees in Haiti, Madagascar, and Ethiopia, Conklin told me. He’s an Eden boardmember.
The carefully managed nonprofit hires villagers to plant trees at a cost of 10 cents each, “reduces extreme poverty and restores healthy forests,” according to edenprojects.org. It also takes measures to ensure that the seedlings aren’t gobbled up by grazing creatures or cut down when they grow. I clicked on the website, and Sue and I donated $10 each — which, at the rate of a dime a tree, should result in 200 new trees growing in the earth. You can also arrange for a monthly donation.
ORANGE PEEL TIRES: So I rolled into the shop, bought two new tires, and rolled out on orange peel treads. True, U.S.-made Yokohama brand tires use orange peels to replace some of the petroleum oil normally used in the manufacture. Yokohama claims they’re better tires, too. (No, they don’t smell like orange juice when they get hot or leave funny marks on the road, either.)
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: No, nothing to do with any election campaign, but Jean Cocteau’s classic 1946 film, which has been given new life with Philip Glass’s gorgeous score. Which meant for a magical evening at the Granada, with the film shown (the soundtrack removed) and the Philip Glass Ensemble performing live onstage and accompanied by singers taking the roles of the actors. (Thanks to UCSB Arts & Lectures.)