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.