Montana Politics Ryan Zinke

Ryan and Lola Zinke Are Living It Up on the Taxpayer’s Dime, Too

Written by Don Pogreba
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In what is becoming a pattern of abuse from people who came to power promising to “drain the swamp,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and his wife are certainly enjoying the trappings of power at the expense of American taxpayers. While Zinke has perhaps not matched the largesse of now-former Secretary Tom Price, he and his family have certainly availed themselves of every opportunity to charge taxpayers for military and charter flights.

And while the Secretary’s wife has not gone so far as to advertise the brands she’s wearing on Instagram like Louise Linton, Lola Zinke hasn’t shied away from letting us commoners know just how much she’s enjoying the opportunity to jet around the world in the style she’s growing accustomed to.

While Mrs. Zinke’s decision to post social media photos of a Greek vacation while Secretary Zinke was supposed to be reviewing monuments across the country didn’t get past bloggers and reporters,  an absolutely fabulous trip to Greenland and a Halliburton facility in May did slip by. A review of Mrs. Zinke’s social media accounts, though, does show that she and Secretary Zinke had a grand, fur-clad vacation that certainly raises both questions about the official work being done and just how cozy Secretary Zinke is with the energy companies he is ostensibly supposed to help regulate at Interior.

That Zinke and his wife are not only spending taxpayer dollars like drunken sailors (an apt cliché if I’ve ever heard one) but bragging about it, is hardly surprising, given his penchant for mixing personal business with government expense. Much of the national coverage of Zinke’s trips across the country for vacations and political events missed that his promising Naval career was derailed for similar violations in the 1990s, but it did include one detail that is of some interest to Montana voters, especially those who read in the Lee papers that Zinke was definitely not living in California. From Vanity Fair:

Much like Price’s and Mnuchin’s, Zinke’s private trips often happened to occur around the same time as government-funded work tied to his position as head of Interior, which often coincided with weekend trips to his homes in Montana and Santa Barbara.

And the Washington Post reports the same thing. It’s almost as if the local reporting during Zinke’s last Montana race was wrong or something.

As for the travel, I get it. The temptations of power must be real, no matter the rhetoric about swamp draining. Secretary Zinke, though, has always had a problem with using government resources for his own benefit. He can call criticism of his latest set of extravagant journeys “B.S.” all he wants, just as he called his earlier violations youthful indiscretions, but a pattern is a pattern.

Maybe the rules are different in Santa Barbara, but Montanans certainly expect their small government conservatives to act the government isn’t their own personal piggy bank.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

11 Comments

  • Speculation or as we say in Montana, BS. Where’s your facts that says he didn’t pay for it out of his own pocket? Was he using Pelosi’s jet? Did he get funding from the Clinton Foundation or a kick back from Comey’s leaks to the press? I could go on. Making America divided again, liberal fake news. Wanted CNN reporters, good pay, but short longevity.

    • You’re not much of a reader, are you? If you click the link, it will magically answer your questions. I’m so tired of having to debate LITERAL FACT with conservatives.

        • @bill – My 401K(s)? They’re doing just fine, thanks. Primarily because I didn’t let my employers’ HR people make any of the decisions on them. My monthly distributions are deposited directly into my account, and I continue to manage them. And, as a life-long independent, I can thankfully say that no one I’ve voted for in over 50 years has ever been charged or even investigated for misuse of my tax dollars. Can you say the same?

      • It’s why the republic is in real danger. Those who support the anti-intellectual, anti-science, anti-logic agenda of the Trump wing of the Republican Party don’t care about evidence or analysis. And a democracy can’t survive like that.

  • https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal-watchdog-opens-probe-into-travel-by-interior-secretary-ryan-zinke/2017/10/02/3f24fbf8-a7ad-11e7-92d1-58c702d2d975_story.html?utm_term=.86df2fa90788

    Federal watchdog opens probe into travel by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke

    The inspector general for the Interior Department has opened an investigation into Secretary Ryan Zinke’s travel during seven months in office, from his use of taxpayer-funded charter and military planes to his mixing of official trips with political appearances.

    Nancy K. DiPaolo, a spokesperson for Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall, described a broad investigation into Zinke’s “travel in general,” including “modes of travel, costs and schedules.”

    “It’s not just one trip,” she said. “It’s seven months of travel.” She said the probe was prompted by numerous complaints from employees and the public and recent newspaper articles. Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (Ariz.) and A. Donald McEachin (Va.), the top Democrats……

    (Heather) Swift (Zinke’s spokeswoman) said Zinke’s charter flights were authorized by ethics officials and booked only when feasible commercial flights were unavailable. She said previous interior secretaries flew charter flights when needed.

  • This IG won’t find him guilty of anything as deals will be cut to help personal aspirations (back scratch) on both sides.

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