Three months after leaving the top post of the department that oversees mining on public lands, Ryan Zinke is taking a position at a gold mining firm.
U.S. Gold announced Tuesday that it has appointed the former interior secretary to its board of directors.
The path from a president's Cabinet to the corporate boardroom is a common one. President Barack Obama's two interior secretaries, Sally Jewell and Ken Salazar, serve on the board of directors for, respectively, the insurance company Symetra and the big-box retailer Target.
Still, by appointing Zinke, this small Nevada-based gold mining firm is trying to give itself a leg up in dealing with the federal government as it explores for gold and other precious metals out West.
U.S. Gold's chief executive, Edward Karr, acknowledged as much when announcing the appointment, citing in a statement Zinke's “in-depth knowledge of the governmental regulatory and permitting process for mining and exploration companies.”
In tandem with his position on the board of directors, Zinke was retained by U.S. Gold as a government relations consultant, for which the company will pay him $90,000 per year.
But for now, Zinke's work for U.S. Gold is constrained by "revolving door" law. He is prohibited from communicating with his old colleagues to influence policy during a two-year "cooling off" period.
“I don’t lobby,” Zinke told the Associated Press. “I just follow the law, so I don’t talk to anybody on the executive side."
Zinke channeled his old boss's campaign slogan in his own statement: “I am excited to work closely with management and the Board to help make mining great again in America.”
Among mining companies, U.S. Gold is small, with a $20 million valuation and two plays in north-central Nevada and southeast Wyoming. As of January of this year, none of the company’s properties contain proven and probable reserves of gold and other precious metals it is seeking to extract, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
This is the second post-administration job for Zinke, who just two weeks after resigning from office in January became a managing director of the technology and energy investment firm Artillery One.
Zinke left the Interior Department amid numerous investigations into potential conflicts of interest.
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