Categories: Featured News

U.S. Interior Dept. watchdog launches investigation into Zinke’s travel

By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Interior Department’s watchdog agency has launched an investigation into Secretary Ryan Zinke’s travels after reports emerged last week that he had used a private plane owned by an oil executive, the inspector general’s office said on Monday.

The Inspector General (IG) opened an investigation on Friday after receiving numerous complaints on Thursday about Zinke’s travels, including the use of three chartered flights, IG spokeswoman Nancy DiPaolo told Reuters.

One of those flights taken in June from Las Vegas to near Zinke’s hometown in Montana was on a plane owned by oil and gas executives, costing taxpayers over $12,000, the Washington Post reported last week.

Reports of Zinke’s use of private and military planes came amid heightened scrutiny into private plane use by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who resigned on Friday under pressure from President Donald Trump amid an uproar over his use of costly private charter planes for government business.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have also come under scrutiny over reports of expensive private plane use. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney on Friday advised federal officials against chartering aircraft or using government planes unless necessary, reminding them that it comes out of taxpayers’ pockets.

Zinke denied any inappropriate travel in a speech at conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation on Friday and said his travels were approved by “career employees” of the Interior Department’s ethics office.

He called reports about his recent use of chartered private flights “a little B.S.”

Zinke spoke at a dinner on June 26 to the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team, a new NHL team in Las Vegas owned by Bill Foley, chairman of Fidelity National Financial Inc, a donor to Zinke’s congressional campaigns, the Washington Post reported.

Zinke flew with staff on the chartered plane to Kalispell, Montana, near his hometown of Whitefish, where he was due the next day to address the Western Governors’ Association even as commercial flights were available.

Interior confirmed that Zinke flew two other chartered flights between the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Interior Department has jurisdiction over the Virgin Islands.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)

Recent Posts

Kevin McCarthy Thinks He Can Pass A CR (But Only If It Helps Putin)

Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Friday evening that he thinks he can pass a continuing…

2 hours ago

Kevin McCarthy Tried To Rally House Republicans Against Shutdown And It Blew Up In His Face

Speaker Kevin McCarthy tried to rally House Republicans to stand together against a government shutdown…

4 hours ago

Fani Willis Is Coming For Trump As Georgia RICO Co-Defendant Flips

Fulton County DA Fani Willis has secured her first guilty plea and cooperation in the…

5 hours ago

Michigan Voters Sue To Kick Trump Off The Ballot

Michigan voters have sued to disqualify Trump from both the 2024 Republican primary and general…

6 hours ago

Democrats From Joe Biden To Nancy Pelosi To John Fetterman Honor The Late Sen. Dianne Feinstein

Sen., Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) passed away overnight in Washington, DC at the age of 90…

10 hours ago

Biden Takes Action As Antisemitism Hits Highest Level Ever Recorded

The Biden-Harris Administration announced that for the first time, federal agencies are making it clear…

1 day ago