News & Features

Zinke Announces Hiring Top Staff

Congressman tabs former SOFA PAC treasurer as chief of staff

U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana named Scott Hommel, the former treasurer of the political action committee that spent nearly $200,000 in support of Zinke’s candidacy, as his chief of staff Monday.

Hommel is a military veteran and former treasurer of Special Operations For America PAC, or SOFA PAC, that Zinke founded in 2010.

Zinke resigned as chairman of SOFA just weeks before announcing his run for Congress in 2013. SOFA PAC reported spending just over $175,000 on behalf of Zinke’s candidacy and just over $17,000 against his challenger in the Republican primary, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The spending has been the subject of at least two complaints filed with the Federal Election Commission alleging the PAC coordinated its efforts with Zinke’s campaign. The campaign has denied any coordination.

Super PACS are allowed to spend money to support or oppose candidates, but they are not allowed to coordinate with candidates or their campaigns.

A spokeswoman for Zinke did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.

Montana Democratic Party spokesman Bryan Watt said the move shows Zinke is handing out favors to his “dark money friends.”

“We need a congressman who puts Montana before his special interest cronies, and Ryan Zinke is already failing Montana – even before he has cast his first vote,” Watt said.

Zinke also named Micah Chambers as his legislative director, Heather Smith as his communications director and Jocelyn Galt as his scheduler.

Zinke announced previously he hired former U.S. House Rep. Denny Rehberg’s state director Randy Vogel to oversee his state offices in Billings and Helena. Those offices opened Tuesday.

Zinke was sworn in Tuesday as the lone Montana U.S. House Representative and first Navy SEAL in Congress. He defeated Democrat John Lewis in the November midterm election.