Former ethics chief on Zinke exempting Florida from drilling: You’re making us a ‘banana republic’

Former ethics chief on Zinke exempting Florida from drilling: You’re making us a ‘banana republic’

Former White House ethics chief Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubPence lands in controversy with stay at Trump hotel Ex-ethics chief rips Trump July 4 event as 'taxpayer-funded campaign ad' Here are the top paid White House staffers MORE on Tuesday blasted Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeEurope deepens energy dependence on Russia Overnight 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 MORE's decision to exempt Florida from offshore oil and gas programs, claiming it appears to be a conflict of interest to protect the state that houses President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE's Palm Beach luxury resort.

"So you are exempting the state that is home to the festering cankerous conflict of interest that the administration likes to call the 'Winter White House' and none of the other affected states?" tweeted Walter Shaub, referring to Mar-a-Lago.

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Shaub, who served as the head of the Office of Government Ethics until July, suggested the country is heading in the direction of a "banana republic" and Zinke is leading the charge.

 

Zinke decided to not allow drilling in waters near Florida through 2024 after a Tuesday meeting with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), who expressed his opposition to the plan on the grounds that it would affect tourism.

The secretary had proposed opening almost all of the nation’s coasts to drilling earlier this week.

President Trump has directed me to rebuild our offshore oil and gas program in a manner that supports our national energy policy and also takes into consideration the local and state voice,” Zinke said in a statement.

“I support the governor’s position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver,” he continued.

“As a result of discussion with Gov. Scott's [sic] and his leadership, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms.”

The governors of nearly all the states along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts have joined Scott in calling for their shores to be removed from the plan, but Zinke has not ruled any other area out at this stage in the process.

Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics from 2013 to mid-2017, has repeatedly criticized the Trump administration for what he perceives as conflicts of interest.