Lolita “Lola” Zinke, a Santa Barbara native and wife of Donald Trump’s former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, broke a bottle of Champagne over the hull of the future USS Santa Barbara in Mobile, Alabama, this weekend, proclaiming, “For the United States of America, I christen thee ‘Santa Barbara.’” In the process, Zinke sprayed herself and few others close by with Champagne.
The naval vessel in question is designed for coastal warfare and belongs to a class of ships known as Littoral Combat Ships.
Also on hand for the occasion was Santa Barbara City Councilmember Oscar Gutierrez, who, as mayor pro-tem, was standing in for incumbent mayor Cathy Murillo, now campaigning for reelection in this November’s council race.
Lolita Zinke grew up in Santa Barbara, and her family owns property on the Mesa. Her husband’s close ties to Santa Barbara have long been a bone of contention raised by his political opponents in his home state of Montana. With Ryan Zinke currently running for one of Montana’s two congressional seats, that issue has resurfaced, with his political critics seizing on social media posts showing Ryan and Lolita Zinke quarantining during the COVID crisis in Santa Barbara rather than Montana.
Zinke, a former high school quarterback turned Navy Seal turned budding Republican rock star, was appointed by Donald Trump as Secretary of the Interior, where he championed a policy of aggressive pro-oil development, better known as “Drill, Baby, Drill.” As Interior Secretary, Zinke was dogged by chronic breach-of-ethics violations and numerous investigations. He ultimately opted to resign and briefly became a lobbyist.