Ryan Zinke, Donald Trump’s pick for Interior secretary, will have his cabinet hearing today.
Zinke currently represents Montana in the U.S. House of Representatives, having assumed office in 2015. Before this, he was a member of the Montana Senate, and from 1986 to 2008, he served in the United States Navy.
His wife is Lolita Hand Zinke, also known as Lola, and the couple has three children. Here’s what you need to know about Lolita Zinke.
1. She Was a Member of the Trump Campaign’s Hispanic & Women’s Outreach Committees
Lolita Zinke had a role in the campaign of Donald Trump, serving as a member of the campaign’s Hispanic and women’s outreach committee.
A month before the election, Zinke wrote an op-ed for the conservative news website Breitbart in which she talks about why she, a Hispanic woman, is proud to be voting for Donald Trump.
“Blindly voting for Clinton because she happens to be a woman does not prove feminist bonafides,” Zinke wrote. “For me, it would go against everything my husband and I have stood for: love of family, strength of our local community, and defense of our country.”
Zinke goes on to say that the left “cannot comprehend or respect a woman choosing to vote for Mr. Trump.” She then talks about the fact that as a military wife and mom, she is concerned about Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy positions.
This article was written a week after a leaked tape from 2005 showed Donald Trump bragging about forcibly grabbing women by the genitals. Zinke did not specifically make reference to this controversy in her Breitbart piece, but she did write, “We all know Mr. Trump has said some regrettable things. He’s since apologized. I got over it.”
Zinke also says in the article that she was the one who convinced her husband to support Donald Trump; her husband ended up endorsing Trump in May 2016.
In an interview with Elle at the 2016 Republican National Convention, Zinke said that she does not believe Donald Trump is sexist, although she says she isn’t familiar with any of his reality shows.
“I never watched The Apprentice or any of [Trump’s] reality TV shows, so I am not familiar with some of the antics or some of the words that he may have used while he was in that role,” Zinke said. “But I believe that he treats women in business just as he would treat a man. I don’t buy into the rhetoric that, ‘Oh, he said something on TV once a long time ago.’ That was a different thing.”
2. She Has Defended Trump’s Comments on Undocumented Immigrants
As a part of Trump’s Hispanic outreach committee, Lolita Zinke was often tasked with speaking to media outlets and defending comments made by President-elect Donald Trump.
In particular, she has had to clarify Trump’s position on immigration, which dramatically shifted throughout his presidential campaign. In an August 2016 interview with Univision, Zinke said that Trump “realizes the contributions the Hispanic community has made to our military. He understands Hispanic values and the contributions of our community.”
She also said that Trump has no plans to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, although in the early days of his campaign, Trump repeatedly suggested that he would in fact deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
Trump’s position later evolved into only deporting undocumented immigrants with criminal records; Zinke told Univision that “No one wants criminals or rapists here.”
“What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records — gang members, drug dealers, we have a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million. We are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate,” Trump said in a post-election interview on 60 Minutes. “But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally.”
Paul Ryan also said in a recent CNN town hall that there will be no deportation force, contradicting Trump’s statement that “You’re going to have a deportation force.”
“[I]f you’re worried some deportation force is coming and knocking on your door this year, don’t worry about that,” Ryan said.
3. She Now Works on Trump’s Veterans Administration Landing Team
Shortly after the November election, Lolita Zinke was given a job on President-elect Trump’s Veterans Administration Landing Team. This team was tasked with identifying how Trump could improve the Veterans Administration in his first 100 days.
“Nothing is more near to my heart than caring for our troops,” Lolita Zinke said in a statement in November. “I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to serve in such a crucial part of this Administration. As a military wife and mom, I have personally seen the challenges that our veterans and our men and women in uniform face when dealing with the VA. There are many changes that need to be made to ensure that those who fight for our country are getting the care they need and deserve. I am excited to be part of such a pivotal moment for them.”
Ryan Zinke also said of his wife, “She understands the Veterans Administration on a deeply personal level and there is no doubt in my mind that she will help to create a smooth transition between Administrations and make sure that President-elect Trump keeps VA reform one of his top priorities.”
The New York Times reported in December that Trump’s team is considering a plan in which veterans could opt out of medical care at Veterans Affairs hospitals in favor of going to see private doctors.
4. She Is From Santa Barbara & Has a Background in Law
Zinke is of Hispanic decent, and she was born in Santa Barbara, California to Frederick Hand and Consuelo Castro Hand.
She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara and then from the California Western School of Law. After graduation, she worked at the San Diego Public Defenders Office, providing bilingual felony arraignment services, according to GOP.com.
In her article on Breitbart, Zinke says that she is often accused of being uneducated by those on the left, writing, “I have a law degree by the way.”
Zinke is currently a self-employed estate property and asset manager.
5. She & Her Husband Have Three Children
Lolita and Ryan Zinke have three children: one daughter, Jennifer, and two sons, Wolfgang and Konrad.
Jennifer graduated first in her class from the U.S. Navy Diving school, and she is married to an active duty Navy SEAL, according to GOP.com. Jennifer was deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, as was Ryan Zinke himself.
Lolita is also a grandmother, as Jennifer has two children, according to Elle.
Wolfgang and Konrad are both in college. According to Breitbart, Lolita says her youngest son is considering serving in the military. Wolfgang accompanied Ryan and Lolita to a Trump rally in May 2016, during which Ryan officially endorsed Trump for president.
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