Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke seems to be more secretive now than he was just a few months ago about who he meets with and why. CREW filed two Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Department of Interior to increase transparency about his schedule and possible efforts to minimize detail available publicly. The first FOIA request seeks copies of records of all of Secretary Zinke’s scheduled meetings, appointments, and scheduled events for June 9-11, 2018, when there is already public record of meetings that can be used for comparison. The second FOIA request asks for all communications concerning changes to how Zinke’s meetings and other scheduled events are described on his calendar.

A review of Secretary Zinke’s calendars that have been posted on the Interior Department’s website reveals that more recently posted documents contain far less detail than those previously posted. For example, calendars from March 2018, contain considerably more detail than those posted for May and June 2018. The more recent entries contain far more general descriptions such as “external meeting” instead of identifying with the others in the meeting. This lack of detail raises the concern that the Interior Department has altered Secretary Zinke’s calendars to avoid full transparency that disclosure under should bring. The requested three days of calendars in June 2018 should have

The requested records will shed light on that practice and whether the Interior Department is complying fully with both the letter and spirit of the FOIA. Secretary Zinke has been the subject of numerous controversies in the past, and has reportedly kept the public in the dark about who he is meeting with and what they are meeting about. A detailed version of Zinke’s calendar, as well as information about any changes to it, will provide transparency and with it, the means to hold Secretary Zinke accountable.

Read the FOIA request for June 9-11, 2018.

Read the FOIA request for calendar changes.

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