Both the Washington Post and the Billings Gazette have taken Secretary Zinke to task over the past week or so. A piece in the Post yesterday stated “[Zinke] is giving Sessions competition for the worst Trump Cabinet member” and the Gazette had this to say “Zinke is failing to lead by example. How can taxpayers trust him to trim out waste – and sustain essential public services — when they see the secretary spending extravagantly on his own taxpayer-funded travel?”
The Billings Gazette called out Ryan Zinke for his wasteful travel and prancing around on horses while demanding that Americans deal with exorbitantly increased entry fees to National parks.
The Billings Gazette continued:
We don’t know of any law that says the Interior secretary can’t fly around in helicopters and charter airplanes at public expense for quick, convenient trips. But when Zinke is wielding the budget knife and eyeing an increase of $40 for every car that rolls into Yellowstone Park, shouldn’t he be demonstrating some frugal leadership?
The Washington Post noted that an investigation is possible into his travel that raided firefighting funds:
He could face investigation over his use of a helicopter,diverting funds from wildfire funds. (“An Oregon lawmaker is asking the Interior Department’s inspector general to look into whether Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wrongly tapped into a wildfire-fighting fund to take a helicopter tour of Nevada last year. Senator Ron Wyden is making the request following a Newsweek investigation that discovered how the Department of the Interior had discussed billing a wildfire preparedness fund for Zinke’s use of a chartered helicopter on a trip that did not take Zinke to a wildfire zone, but did include a press conference.”)
This was apparently not a one-time occurrence.(“Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke spent more than $14,000 on government helicopters this summer to take himself and staff to and from official events near Washington, D.C., in order to accommodate his attendance at a swearing-in ceremony for his replacement in Congress and a horseback ride with Vice President Mike Pence, according to previously undisclosed official travel documents.”)
The Washington Post also noted
[Zinke] allegedly threatened Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) with retribution if she did not vote for the GOP health-care bill. (“The Alaska Dispatch News on Thursday reported that Zinke had called Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both Republicans, on Wednesday. He warned them that Murkowski’s vote on Tuesday against a motion to begin debate on the healthcare overhaul could have negative consequences for energy and land use in Alaska, the newspaper said. Murkowski’s no vote forced Vice President Mike Pence to cast a tie-breaking vote to pass the motion by a 51-50 ballot.”)