The Department of Interior’s Office of the Inspector General will be opening a formal investigation to see if Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke committed any wrongdoing by chasing a sweetheart real estate deal between a foundation controlled by his family and private developers, including Halliburton Chairman David Lesar, Politico reported. News of the land deal in Secretary Zinke’s hometown and potential conflicts of interest was first reported last month.
Statement by Western Values Project Executive Director Chris Saeger on Investigation into Zinke:
“This entire episode is a perfect metaphor for Secretary Zinke’s career — he’s been using public lands to serve himself, and the rest of us have paid the price. We applaud this important step toward finally holding him accountable.”
Mr. Saeger is available for interviews remotely and can provide tours to media of the Whitefish real estate at the center of this investigation.
Secretary Zinke’s family’s foundation is helping a developer backed in part by the Chair of Halliburton — a maxed-out donor to Secretary Zinke’s congressional campaigns — exploit land that had originally been set aside for a veterans park for public use for a commercial development [POLITICO, 6/19/18]
Secretary Zinke had a meeting in his Interior office and gave a Lincoln Memorial tour to private developers while the developers were engaged in a land deal with Secretary Zinke’s wife in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana that stood to enrich Secretary Zinke’s family. Zinke confirmed that he discussed the land deal at that meeting in an interview after the news broke. One of the developers in attendance was the chairman of Halliburton, an oil and gas multinational corporation that drills on the public lands Zinke oversees as Interior Secretary [POLITICO, 6/21/18]
The scandal-plagued Secretary has already been the subject of a record amount of investigations in his short tenure at the helm of Interior.