The Inspector General form the Department of the Interior has launched an investigation into Secretary Ryan Zinke’s use of private jets.
The investigation comes as the several cabinet secretaries are under fire for using chartered private or military planes for dubiously official travel. In fact, former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned last Friday over the same issue.
Zinke’s charter trips included flights that costed more than a $12,000 to go from the Las Vegas to the home state of Montana after he addressed at a dinner in honor of the hockey team owned by a former political donor. He also took a flight with in the U.S. Virgin Islands on the same charter.
He dismissed the news as “BS”. ZInkie said that these flights were booked “were only booked after extensive due diligence by the career professionals in the department’s general law and ethics division”, and that he took the charters only “after it was determined by multiple career officials at the department that no commercial options existed to meet the promulgated schedule.”
The Inspector said that it, “seems to be a special favor provided to a major political supporter of both Sec. Zinke and the President at taxpayer expense.”
In the letter Grijalva wrote, he said, “Claims that the secretary’s full schedule required the use of chartered aircraft deserve scrutiny,”
Zinke stuck to his statement saying that, “The flights were only booked after extensive due diligence by the career professionals in the department’s general law and ethics division.” Zinke is one of the latest Trump administration official to face scrutiny over his travel. Where the former Health Secretary Tom Price resigned after it was revealed that he had spent a sum of more than $400,000 in taxpayer funds on private jets for government travel.
The Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt have also used the noncommercial travel while working in with the Trump administration.