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Something unlikely is going on in Whitefish, Montana. The tiny city of 6,500 is in one of America’s many farming regions, but it has assigned a lot of media space this year. Since the commencement of 2017, the town’s name has popped up regularly in stories about the distant right. Whitefish is the home bottom for Trump’s intensity private spy agency, as good as the tiny company engaged to revive appetite in Puerto Rico, and early in the year, the city drew media courtesy as the due assembly indicate for an anti-Semitic rally. On the surface, these may not seem related. But on closer examination, all 3 are clearly related to the Trump White House.
Let’s start with Whitefish Energy. After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and left the island but power, a tiny company formed in Whitefish, handling for reduction than two years, was engaged to revive appetite for a vast price of $300 million. The Puerto Rican supervision against the Whitefish Energy understanding and it eventually fell through, terminating Nov 30. The FBI has given launched an review into the contract.
It was by the Puerto Rico story that many first schooled of the Trump administration’s ties to Whitefish. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke grew up in Whitefish and has personal and business ties to the appetite organisation engaged for the work in Puerto Rico, heading many to think that Zinke had distant motives for selecting the organisation over larger, some-more gifted competitors. The Washington Post reported that Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski and Zinke are acquainted, “but only, Zinke’s bureau pronounced in an email, given Whitefish is a tiny city where ‘everybody knows everybody.’…Zinke’s bureau pronounced he had no role in Whitefish securing the agreement for work in Puerto Rico. Techmanski also pronounced Zinke was not involved.”
Special favors among absolute business owners and internal politicians, while unethical, aren’t anything new, and once the attribute between Zinke and Whitefish Energy was suggested in full, Puerto Rican officials called for the agreement to be voided. Actually, the company continued work by Nov until it claimed it was due over $80 million in fees by the government. According to Slate, “Under the contract, subcontractors done as much as $462 per hour, racking up high costs for PREPA, which was already billions in debt before the Hurricane struck.”
But that wasn’t the last we would hear of Whitefish, Montana.
Most recently, Buzzfeed reported that Trump was deliberation rising a new comprehension organisation that some are job a “private CIA.” Amyntor Group, the company that submitted the proposal, is a private executive that provides comprehension and company manpower to governments and corporations, and is formed in Whitefish. Buzzfeed says there’s “no famous relationship” between Amyntor and Whitefish Energy, but both groups have connectors to the Trump administration. In further to Zinke’s tie to Whitefish Energy, Amyntor has an disciple close to the president: Erik Prince, hermit of Betsy DeVos and a outspoken proponent of the American government’s use of private engaged militias (like his own, Blackwater). Prince is one of the pivotal total pulling the Trump administration to occupy private spies, and Trump is allegedly tempted as he’s frequently voiced his contempt for both the CIA and the FBI. Prince is a former Navy SEAL—as is Ryan Zinke.
Simmering underneath these questionable White House deals is the well-documented tradition of white leverage and neo-Nazism in the city of Whitefish. The city is home to white supremacist personality Richard Spencer and Chuck Baldwin, a radical-right nonconformist apportion who preaches Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and homophobia among other strains of hate. Buzzfeed News looked into the conspicuous expansion of white supremacism in this removed region, and explained the trend of neo-Nazis moving to the area as follows:
“Flathead County, race 96,000, is one of the whitest places in the republic (95.2%). There are other allures for people at contingency with mainstream American culture: the vast pockets of open space, the ability to live off the grid, the miss of limitation when it comes to gun ownership. The Montana domestic ethos—some brew of libertarian, conservative, and ‘don’t f**k with me’—is mouth-watering that way. As a internal priest put it, ‘It’s a place where people can feel protected when they contend vast things.’”
Neo-Nazis in Spencer’s stay designed to impetus on Whitefish around the same time as the Women’s Mar progressing this year, in a convene targeted “against Jews, Jewish businesses and everybody who supports either.” The Daily Stormer betrothed around 200 skinheads would invade the city “carrying high-powered rifles” to urge Spencer’s honor. In response, counterprotesters gathered, internal residents handed out matzoh round soup and the skinheads never showed up.
The Whitefish city supervision has regularly denounced Spencer and his participation in their town. The mayor pronounced in a open matter last year, “The city of Whitefish repudiates the ideas and beliefs of the founder of the supposed alt-right as a approach aspersion to the community’s core values and principles. The city of Whitefish rejects injustice and prejudice in all its forms and expressions.”
The call of worried hatred in Whitefish is also connected to Trump’s cabinet; here again, Interior Sec. Zinke’s name emerges. Last year, Raw Story reported on Zinke’s connectors to white supremacists in Whitefish and the surrounding area. Zinke permitted a white jingoist claimant for Montana statehouse in 2016, who finished up losing but after thanked Zinke for assisting him seem some-more mainstream. This year, publisher Wayne Madsen reported that Zinkes’ two sons “were friends of former Whitefish proprietor Richard Spencer,” and that partial of the reason Spencer changed his domicile to Washington, D.C., after Trump’s election was to be closer to the Zinkes, as good as his crony Stephen Miller.
Madsen pronounced around email that he “was told by those who’ve been to Whitefish that the Zinke boys ran with Spencer and his crowd.”
In case your conduct is spinning, here’s a recap: Whitefish Energy’s CEO knows Zinke; Zinke served in the same chosen military bend as Erik Prince, who is now pulling Trump to agreement a private company formed in Whitefish, which has emerged as a white jingoist hotbed in new years and was the environment for a personal attribute between far-right extremists and Zinke’s own family. So much for the forgive that Whitefish is just a tiny city where “everyone knows everybody.” There are too many questionable ties for Zinke’s PR group to get divided with that one. Smells unlikely to us.
Liz Posner is a handling editor at AlterNet. Her work has seemed on Forbes.com, Bust, Bustle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter at @elizpos.