U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke flew to Northern Nevada today to address a private event for Rule of Law Defense Fund, a right-wing group with ties to Republican Attorneys General. Public lands advocates greeted him as he arrived at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe in Incline Village. They also urged him to appear in public and listen to Nevadans who want the Trump Administration to keep Nevada’s National Monuments intact.

Photo by Ashley Van Brocklin

As Zinke arrived in Incline Village for the private Rule of Law Defense Fund fundraiser, local environmentalists stood outside to urge the Trump Administration to leave Nevada’s public lands alone.

Video provided by Ashley Van Brocklin

Why are environmentalists and public lands advocates upset?

The Trump Administration is in the midst of a “review” of National Monuments declared in the past 21 years. Two of the monuments under review are in Nevada: Gold Butte, and Basin and Range. The White House is considering reducing their size or outright eliminating them, even though 81% of Nevadans support keeping in place existing National Monuments (according to Colorado College’s 2017 Conservation in the West survey).
Earlier this month, the Interior Department skipped a Las Vegas forum on public lands hosted by Native American community leaders. Though Secretary Zinke is in Nevada today and tomorrow, he has yet to attend an event that’s open to press or meet in person with community leaders who want to keep Nevada’s public lands protected.

Videos provided by Ashley Van Brocklin

Who and what is Rule of Law Defense Fund?

It’s an offshoot of the Republican Attorney Generals Association (RAGA). Freedom Partners, a Koch Brothers funded Super PAC, has given $175,000 to Rule of Law Defense Fund since 2014. In 2014, the Republican Attorney Generals Association spent $1.8 million on TV ads in support of Adam Laxalt’s (R) successful bid for Nevada Attorney General.
Zinke is not the only Trump official with ties to this group. Scott Pruitt had to resign from Rule of Law Defense Fund before he was confirmed as EPA Secretary. Before Pruitt took charge of the EPA, he led this group’s attack on climate action programs the EPA was tasked to enforce. Pruitt recently tapped Samantha Dravis, another Rule of Law Defense Fund alumnus, to lead a task force on weakening environmental rules.

Photo by Ashley Van Brocklin

Secretary Zinke is set to appear at an event highlighting “the Trump Administration’s commitment to rural communities” tomorrow, though the Interior Department has declined to release any details on the Monday event.
(Cover photo also provided by Ashley Van Brocklin)