The ranking member Rep. Raul Grijalva of the House Natural Resources Committee called on Interior’s Office of Inspector General to investigate Secretary Ryan Zinke after released documents revealed that last summer Secretary Zinke had a meeting in his official 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. 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.
Following this breaking news, Western Values Project Executive Director Chris Saeger released the following statement calling for an investigation into scandal-plagued Secretary Zinke:
“Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire and the only way to find out for sure is an independent investigation. Secretary Zinke is a steward of our public lands, and if he’s abusing this position to help his big oil buddies to enrich himself and his family at the expense of taxpayers, he needs to be held accountable.”
Based on the documents released, it appears, Secretary Zinke used his public office and government resources to butter up property developers as they were working on a sweetheart land deal in his hometown that he stands to gain from. Just weeks after this secret rendezvous, the developers showered him with praise, with one sending him an email calling their relationship ‘an absolute grand slam.’
Western Values Project commends Representatives Grijalva, Huffman, and McEachin for requesting an investigation into Secretary Zinke, and calls on all members of Congress to join in demanding Interior investigate this egregious abuse of power for personal gain.