A Rough Year For Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke — And It’s Still January

"The start of the new year has been rocky for Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke. He’s on the hot seat for exempting Florida from the Trump administration’s expanded oil and gas offshore drilling proposal without bothering to notify his boss, and for what appears to be a failure to disclose an investment in a Montana gun company, a possible conflict of interest.

Those stumbles added to other missteps that have befallen the secretary during the 10 months since he took control of the department, which manages vast federal lands including monuments, parks, refuges as well as abundant natural resources. He booked a $12,000 flight home on a charter jet owned by an oil executive and other private flights to island-hop in the Caribbean. He billed taxpayers more than $6,000 for a helicopter trip he took to rush to a horseback ride with Vice President Pence. Zinke said that criticism that the flights were a misuse of funds was “a wild departure from reality.”

But his office admitted error last month after Newsweek revealed that Zinke used nearly $40,000 from a wildfire preparedness fund to pay for flights. The revelation came at a time when state and federal officials in California had just finished fighting two massive wildfires at enormous expense."

Darryl Fears reports for the Washington Post January 29, 2018.

Source: Washington Post, 01/30/2018