The official Twitter account of a U.S. House committee used its platform to bluntly accuse the outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia of lying to the public about President Donald Trump's decision to significantly reduce the protected land of two Utah national monuments.
".@Patagonia doesn't want #MonumentsForAll, they just want your money #BearsEars," the House Committee on Natural Resources tweeted on Friday afternoon.
— Natural Resources (@NatResources) December 8, 2017
The tweet came in response to Patagonia's announcement that it would file a lawsuit against the Trump administration. The image in the tweet also mocked the message the company covered the homepage of its website with.
"The President Stole Your Land," a bold and large message on the Patagonia read.
The House panel is chaired by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, who has received hefty donations over the years from the oil and gas industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Bishop is also a staunch supporter of Trump's agenda, and votes in line with it roughly 94 percent of the time.
"The assertion that 'the president stole your land' is designed to mislead and terrify the uninformed. Their deception speaks volumes about their contempt for rural Americans in Utah," a committee statement said, according to The Hill. "Of course, Patagonia, a self-interested corporation like any other, knows the truth, but they don't care. Lies and distortions are better for their bottom line."
But the tweet and the statement seem to insinuate a boycott of a private company, which breaks with precedent, as the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Schaub, pointed out on Twitter.
When a federal government official publicly calls you a liar on an official social media account, without any due process whatsoever, the first thing you should do is call a lawyer. The second thing you should do is find out the name of the official who posted this tweet. https://t.co/0D7Doj6dkk — Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) December 9, 2017
I don’t know if there’s any legal recourse, but I hope Patagonia has a law firm research the issue. The federal govt officially and publicly calling a company a liar for political reasons is a bizarre and dangerous departure from civic norms. It’s also decidedly anti-free market.
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) December 9, 2017
Patagonia did not return Salon's request for comment on the House panel's tweet in time for publication.
The news comes as the California-based Patagonia filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration in conjunction with a rock climbing advocacy group and other organizations on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. It marks just one of "a flurry of lawsuits that have been filed over Trump’s move to reduce the size of Bears Ears and also cut the land protected in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in half."
Prior to former President Barack Obama's official declaration of Bears Ears in Dec. 2016, Patagonia launched a massive campaign and dedicated lobbying efforts to support the decision, the AP reported. And in a rare move for a major retailer, the company appears unwilling to back down.
"It was just never a question about whether we were going to continue the fight to protect it once it came down to that," Hilary Dessouky, Patagonia’s general counsel, told the AP.
In an op-ed in Time Magazine, Patagonia CEO, Rose Marcario, wrote that Trump's decision to drastically downsize the monuments "robs the American people of their public lands heritage."
"For more than a century, presidents of both political parties have upheld their solemn responsibility as stewards of America’s public lands by protecting our most special wild places," Marcario wrote. "This is not about politics; it’s about protecting the places we love and keeping the great promise of this country for our children and grandchildren."