Quantcast

Zinke Caught Raising Political Funds During Taxpayer-Funded Trips

Popular
U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke, who is being investigated for his use of private planes on the taxpayer dime, is under fresh scrutiny for "mixing political gatherings ... during official business."

According to Interior travel records and other documents seen by POLITICO, the secretary has met with GOP donors and political groups more than a half-dozen times while on taxpayer-funded department trips, including a local Republican Party fundraiser in the U.S. Virgin Islands where donors paid up to $5,000 per couple for a photo-op with Zinke.


"Ethics watchdogs say Zinke is combining politics with his Interior duties so frequently that he risks tripping over the prohibitions against using government resources for partisan activity," POLITCO reports.

Zinke's trips do not appear to break the law. For instance, his visit to the U.S. Virgin Islands from March 30 to April 1 was an official trip related to the Interior Dept.'s role overseeing the U.S. territory.

But House Democrats criticized the secretary in a letter sent Tuesday that stated that Zinke's travels "give the appearance that you are mixing political gatherings and personal destinations with official business."

Zinke has spent about $20,000 on three charter flights since taking office in March but has dismissed the criticisms as "a little B.S."

Meanwhile, the former Montana Congressman has also been on blast by whistleblower Joel Clement, a senior official at the Interior Dept. The climate change expert, who was reassigned by Zinke to a completely unrelated office that oversees fees and royalty checks from oil and gas companies, has resigned from his position.

In a resignation letter shared with the Huffington Post, he called out Zinke and President Donald Trump for their "poor leadership."

"Retaliating against civil servants for raising health and safety concerns is unlawful, but there are many items to add to your resume of failure," Clement wrote to Zinke.

Those failures include "muzzling scientists and policy experts," an "arbitrary and sloppy review of our treasured National Monuments," targeting an Obama-era conservation plan for the greater sage grouse, and compromising tribal sovereignty.

"Secretary Zinke, your agenda profoundly undermines the [Interior Department's] mission and betrays the American people," he wrote.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Coral restoration in Guam. U.S. Pacific Fleet / CC BY-NC 2.0

By Erica Cirino

Visit a coral reef off the coast of Miami or the Maldives and you may see fields of bleached white instead of a burst of colors.

Read More
Cracker Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana. Jacob W. Frank / NPS / Flickr

By Jason Bittel

High up in the mountains of Montana's Glacier National Park, there are two species of insect that only a fly fishermen or entomologist would probably recognize. Known as stoneflies, these aquatic bugs are similar to dragonflies and mayflies in that they spend part of their lives underwater before emerging onto the land, where they transform into winged adults less than a half inch long. However, unlike those other species, stoneflies do their thing only where cold, clean waters flow.

Read More
Sponsored
Augusta National / Getty Images

By Bob Curley

  • The new chicken sandwiches at McDonald's, Popeyes, and Chick-fil-A all contain the MSG flavor enhancement chemical.
  • Experts say MSG can enhance the so-called umami flavor of a food.
  • The ingredient is found in everything from Chinese food and pizza to prepackaged sandwiches and table sauces.

McDonald's wants to get in on the chicken sandwich war currently being waged between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A.

Read More
Protesters march during a "Friday for future" youth demonstration in a street of Davos on Jan. 24 on the sideline of the World Economic Forum annual meeting. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Youth climate activists marched through the streets of Davos, Switzerland Friday as the World Economic Forum wrapped up in a Fridays for Future demonstration underscoring their demand that the global elite act swiftly to tackle the climate emergency.

Read More
chuchart duangdaw / Moment / Getty Images

By Tim Radford

The year is less than four weeks old, but scientists already know that carbon dioxide emissions will continue to head upwards — as they have every year since measurements began leading to a continuation of the Earth's rising heat.

Read More