"Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s approach to his wife’s travel and activities sparked concerns among the department’s ethics officials, according to a report issued Thursday by Interior’s inspector general office.
The report determined that staff in the department’s solicitor office “approved Lolita Zinke and other individuals to ride in Government vehicles with Secretary Zinke” although Interior policy prohibited this practice. The employee who authorized the move told investigators that “she routinely advised” Zinke’s aides “that it would be ‘cleanest’ and ‘lowest risk’ if she did not ride with him” but could find a way to justify it. This summer, Zinke changed Interior’s policy so that family members could ride with him.
Zinke confirmed to investigators that he had directed his staff to research the possibility of giving his wife a volunteer job at Interior, a move that one ethics official objected to on the grounds that it was designed so that Zinke wouldn’t “have to pay” for his wife’s travel. Zinke subsequently “denied that it was an effort to circumvent the requirement to reimburse the DOI for her travel,” the report states."