Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Misused Cabinet Position, Investigation Finds

Trump-era Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke violated ethics rules and misused his position by being involved in a land development project in Montana and failing to disclose it during his time in office, an investigation found.

In a 34-page report released on Feb. 16, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Interior Department found that Zinke was involved in a project with the Great Northern Veterans Peace Park Foundation, from which he had resigned from after his confirmation as interior secretary in 2017.

The report also found that Zinke allegedly used federal resources to conceal his involvement.

According to the report, Zinke declined requests for a voluntary interview with the OIG regarding the allegations.

The OIG ultimately obtained about 64 emails and text messages between August 2017 and July 2018 where Zinke “communicated directly” with project developers.

“In light of these communications, we found that Secretary Zinke failed to abide by his ethics obligations in which he committed not to manage or provide any other services to the Foundation after his appointment as Secretary of the Interior,” the report said.

The investigation, however, did not find that Zinke had violated federal conflict of interest laws.

The OIG referred its findings to the Justice Department, which declined criminal prosecution of the matter last year, according to the report.

The OIG said in the report that they have provided the findings to current Interior Secretary Deb Haaland “for any action deemed appropriate.”

In a statement to Insider, Zinke’s campaign condemned the report.

“A Biden Administration led report published false information, and was shared with the press as a political hit job — real shocker,” the statement read.

The inspector general is Mark Greenblatt, a Republican appointed by former President Donald Trump.


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