Former Congressman and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited our KGVO studios on Thursday to answer questions from listeners about his current campaign for the Western District Congressional seat.

One of the first callers accused Zinke, who calls Whitefish home, of colluding to get a lucrative electrical contact for a Whitefish firm to restore electric power after a massive hurricane in Puerto Rico, which Zinke vehemently denied.

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“The Department of Interior had nothing to do with Puerto Rico,” fired Zinke. “So if you're looking at it, Puerto Rico was under the jurisdiction and administrative control of Congress during the hurricane incident. I had nothing to do with it. It was investigated and I had zero to do with it. There was a company called Whitefish Energy and the only connection I had with Whitefish Energy is that I graduated from Whitefish High School. So it has been investigated and found zero involvement with Puerto Rico.”

Zinke was asked about the simmering conflict on the Ukrainian border and how Russia and China have become more closely allied in recent weeks.

“You know, Russia has long had territorial ambitions on a corridor down the Crimean peninsula,” he said. “And of course China has territorial ambitions on Taiwan and I think they are going to act in concert. And when that happens, we're going to see a global shift in power from one of democracy and freedom led by the West, to an Asian centric coalition of Russia and China that will lead to dictatorship and oppression.”

Closer to home, Zinke commented on the announcement that inflation has reached a 40 year high in the U.S. under the Biden Administration.

“The heart of inflation is energy, and when I was secretary (of the Interior), I came in and we were (producing) 8.3 million barrels (of oil) a day and declining as a nation,” he said. “In two short years we were (producing) 12. 5 million barrels a day and growing, and we were the largest energy producer across the board, not just in fossil fuels, and it makes a difference as gas was two bucks (a gallon). Now we're looking at about 100 bucks a barrel and that has an effect on groceries and we're looking at fertilizer that has quadrupled in price in some places.”

Zinke said he has the full support of major Republican leaders.

"Influence; resume," he said. "Look, I'm not running on rhetoric. I'm running on on things that I've done and getting things done. That's probably why President Trump, Senator Danes and Governor Gianforte have all given me their complete and total endorsement because I get things done. I think we're at a point in this in this country where we need to get things done."

Zinke is one of the Republican candidates for the newly restored western Congressional District.

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