Interior secretary to address group in Northern Nevada

Updated June 26, 2017 - 12:50 am

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will visit Northern Nevada on Sunday to address a group that stirred controversy last year during the confirmation process for another member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.

Zinke is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at a private meeting of the Rule of Law Defense Fund, a right-leaning policy group once led by former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt before he became administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

In December, a group of Senate Democrats cited Pruitt’s role as the fund’s board chairman as evidence of his possible ties to the fossil fuel industry.

On its website, the Rule of Law Defense Fund describes itself as a public policy organization created in 2014 by the Republican Attorneys General Association to promote “the rule of law, federalism, and freedom in a civil society.” In their letter to Pruitt prior to his confirmation hearing, the six senators described the fund as a “secretive group coordinating EPA challenges” and called for a full examination of the nominee’s relationship to it.

According to a report from Bloomberg, the fund has received money from Freedom Partners, a political group tied to billionaire businessmen and oil magnates Charles and David Koch.

Zinke’s speech Sunday is at the Hyatt Regency on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe.

Zinke is in the midst of a review, ordered by Trump in April, of national monuments designated by presidential decree since 1986, including two in Nevada: Gold Butte and Basin and Range National Monuments.

It was unclear if Zinke’s visit to the state is related to that ongoing review.

Interior Department officials could not be reached for comment.

Contact Henry Brean at or 702-383-0350. Follow @refriedbrean on Twitter.

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