I have been writing a lot about Ryan Zinke, Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Department of the Interior, in the past few days. While much of the attention is on Zinke’s future, a story from his past caught my eyes.
In 2012, Zinke joined Neil Livingstone’s gubernatorial ticket as its lieutenant governor candidate. The Livingstone-Zinke ticket failed to make it past the primary, but that wasn’t without Livingstone being dubbed by Mother Jones as “The Most Interesting Gubernatorial Candidate in the World.”
In his ads, Livingstone pondered releasing gray wolves in New York and Washington, D.C. and told the “Feds to go to hell.”
However, there is far more to Livingstone than can be featured in a 30 second ad.
Below are some highlights from coverage of him during his failed 2012 campaign:
“Livingstone lists his own exploits as exploring tunnels beneath the demilitarized zone separating the Koreas, fleeing from angry Nazis in Argentina, suffering interrogation in 1980s Libya and dining with Russian mafioso. He also says he was wrongly subpoenaed for gun running and involvement in the Iran-Contra affair. And that time he was on the yacht belonging to a swashbuckling pirate whose other guests included numerous hookers? He was on a mission, he says, securing private planes to spy on a foreign country.”
“In high school, he scored a bargain on a rare coin collection and used the profits to buy a Ferrari – a rare sight in 1960s Helena.”
“He has fled angry Nazis in Argentina, been interrogated in 1980s Libya, dined with Russian mafioso and explored tunnels beneath the demilitarized zone separating the Koreas.”
“He said: ‘Without going into detail that I can’t, I have served as a liaison for my government and others in terms of dealing with most of the difficult people on Earth.”
“Livingstone most recently ran a company he started in 2007 called Executive Action — the same term used by the CIA in the 1950s to refer to their assassination operations.”
“He started that company after leaving another called GlobalOptions Inc., which billed itself as a ‘private CIA.’”
“According to his official campaign bio, Montana Republican gubernatorial candidate Neil Livingstone has, at various points during his illustrious career as a Washington-based security consultant, “dined at gangster clubs in Moscow and in the back rooms of Georgian and Uzbek restaurants with members of the Russian Mafia”; “been stalked by terrorists and Nazis in Argentina”; “been paid in stacks of $100 bills by clients”; and held “a business meeting with a six-and-half foot tall pink-eyed albino dressed in white from head-to-foot in a Miami-area motel with the peculiar distinction of having more ‘floaters’ in its pool than any other hospitality establishment in the U.S.””
“A ubiquitous presence on the DC scene, Livingstone has made his share of cameos in newspaper stories about spook-filled rooms. The Washington Post once described his style—crisply tailored suit, Turkish worry beads, three gold rings—as “more invented than real, like a character in an Arnaud de Borchgrave novel.” In 2005, Roll Call dubbed Livingstone “Deep Mouth,” after it was alleged that he had dined at Dupont Circle’s Palm steakhouse 88 times in a 57-day period. (Livingstone denied the charge, telling the paper that he eats there only about 15 times a month.)”
“In 2006, Livingstone left GlobalOptions, where he had served as chief executive, to start a new security company called Executive Action, which takes its name from the CIA’s euphemism for assassination. “Think of us as a McKinsey & Company with muscle, a private CIA and Defense Department available to address your most intractable problems and difficult challenges,” Livingstone said in a statement introducing the new company.”
“Although he refrains from speaking publicly about his clients, a 2007 lawsuit initiated by GlobalOptions revealed that his new firm represented the daughter of Uzbekistan dictator Islam Karimov, as well as the family of Viacom mogul Sumner Redstone. Through Executive Action, Livingstone sponsored a panel to boost the MEK, an Iranian dissident group—and alleged cult—that the US considers a terrorist organization. “There are a few cultlike aspects to them,” he told The New Yorker’s Connie Bruck, “but I like them because they bug Iran.””
Livingstone’s career sounds like it could have been from a Hollywood movie script. However, he viewed it as a distraction from the 2012 election and had most of these “salacious” details removed from his campaign biography.
However, that was not before he went down in history as one of the most colorful figures to run for office in Montana history.