Interior Dept. Probe Of Secretary Ryan Zinke Finds He Spent $25,000 On Security For Vacation With Wife
An investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke found Thursday that the former congressman tried to skirt department policies in order to explain his luxurious vacations with his wife.
The report showed Zinke, 56, spent roughly $25,000 on a security detail for a trip he and his wife Lola took to Turkey last year. Zinke pressured his department’s staffers to find out whether Lola could serve as a volunteer at the Interior Department. Claiming her as such would have thus allowed her to travel with the agency’s head thanks to taxpayer dollars.
Zinke, a former congressman from Montana, also reportedly violated Interior policy by letting her and other non-government employees be transported in federal vehicles alongside him.
“This was also the opinion of Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who said the policy applied to DOI employees but not necessarily to a Secretary,” the report states. “He also said this was a policy a Secretary could change ‘with the stroke of a pen.'”
Zinke claimed ethics officials had cleared him to bring his family with him on several trips. The Interior Secretary is the latest member of President Donald Trump‘s administration to become embroiled in a scandal involving high spending or other ethics violations. Former Health Secretary Tom Price, former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt and outgoing ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley have all been investigated for spending excessively on travel or other goods or services thanks to funds from taxpayers or their department’s budget.
Zinke is also reportedly facing allegations of trying to secure a government phone for his wife and that he ordered his subordinates to walk his dog.