Patagonia, Interior Department trade Twitter barbs over 'special interests'
Posted December 6, 2017 10:22 a.m. EST
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Outdoor retailer Patagonia and the Interior Department continued their public spat over US national monuments Tuesday on Twitter, trading barbs over each others' ties to "special interests."
The company announced Tuesday that it plans to take legal action over President Donald Trump's move to dramatically shrink two national monuments in Utah, a move that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended.
Following that announcement, Zinke took aim at the retailer on a press phone call Tuesday, saying, "You mean Patagonia made in China? This is an example of a special interest."
Zinke also accused Patagonia of lying when it emblazoned the words, "The President Stole Your Land," on the homepage of its website.
On the press call, Zinke labeled that claim "nefarious, false and a lie" because no antiquities protections on the land had been removed -- and added that Patagonia's push was a "blatant lie to fill their coffers."
When a CNN reporter highlighted Zinke's "special interest" comment in a tweet, the interior secretary's official Twitter account, which he runs himself, retweeted the quote.
Patagonia responded by referring to a back-and-forth over Zinke's travel on behalf of the agency: "It's odd that @SecretaryZinke has no problem with special interests when they're paying for his private jets. We have been fighting for these lands for decades, so that hunters, fisherman, hikers and everyone else can use them and help us protect them," the retailer tweeted.
Zinke had previously come under fire for using a private plane to visit Nevada-based hockey team the Vegas Golden Knights, a trip that cost taxpayers $12,375, according to an Interior spokesperson. The spokesperson maintained that the flight was booked after no suitable commercial alternative was available and was approved by Interior's ethics office.
When news surfaced of the charter plane use, multiple investigations were opened into government spending on Zinke's travel.
Following Patagonia's tweet referencing his travel, the official Interior spokesperson account piped in, calling aspects of Patagonia's statement "fake news."
".@patagonia statement is false. Never took a private 'jet' let alone one paid by 'special interests' #MadeInChina #FakeNews," the tweet said.
The spokeswoman followed up a few minutes later with another tweet, "Not a jet. Not paid by spec interest. Same prop that prev secs used. selected by career officials."