Ex-Interior chief ribs Zinke over ‘secretarial flag’

Ex-Interior chief ribs Zinke over ‘secretarial flag’
© Greg Nash

Former Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellNational parks pay the price for Trump's Independence Day spectacle Overnight Energy: Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone | UN report offers dire climate warning | Trump expected to lift ethanol restrictions Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone MORE in a recent interview ribbed her successor for choosing to fly his own personal flag over the agency’s headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C., when he is in the building.

After taking over the Interior Department last year, Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: House Science Committee hits EPA with subpoenas | California sues EPA over Trump revoking emissions waiver | Interior disbands board that floated privatization at national parks Interior disbands advisory board that floated privatization at national parks Overnight Energy: Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' fix from defense bill | Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group | Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics MORE decided to revive an arcane, military flag-flying ritual at the department, The Washington Post reported in October.

The process involves a security staffer going up to the roof and hoisting a special "secretarial flag," which is emblazoned with the agency’s bison seal and flanked by seven white stars, whenever Zinke enters the building. The flag then comes down whenever Zinke leaves.

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“I had no idea there was a secretarial flag,” Jewell told HuffPost. “And if I had known there was a flag the last thing I would have done was to ever fly it.”

Zinke, a former Montana congressman and Navy SEAL, took some criticism for restoring the ritual, a part of which — flying the deputy secretary's flag — violates agency rules for displaying and flying flags, according to HuffPost.

A spokeswoman called it “a major sign of transparency” at the time in a statement to the Washington Post.

“Ryan Zinke is proud and honored to lead the Department of the Interior, and is restoring honor and tradition to the department, whether it’s flying the flag when he is in garrison or restoring traditional access to public lands,” she told the publication.

Jewell said anyone who leads Interior should work at “creating an inclusive atmosphere, making people feel how important they are to the American people.”