Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Busted Wasting Thousands Of Taxpayer Dollars


Several members of the Trump administration have come under fire recently for the ways they’ve used taxpayer money. For example, it was revealed on Thursday that Trump’s Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Price, has spent more than $1 million on overseas travel since May.

Trump’s Interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, is also in trouble for taking multiple flights on private jets and military aircraft, POLITICO reports.

Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift told POLITICO that Zinke’s charter and military plane trips were booked only after officials were unable to find commercial flights that would accommodate his schedule. Swift also noted that all flights were “pre-cleared by career officials in the ethics office.”

Swift said she had not spoken to Zinke about whether or not he plans to reimburse the government for the cost of the flights.

The list of questionable flights that Zinke has taken since he began working in the Trump administration includes a $12,375 flight from Las Vegas to Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell, Montana, about 20 minutes away from Zinke’s home in Whitefish.

Zinke also chartered two flights for him and his staff from St. Croix to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands in March. He and his staff also chartered flights back to St. Croix after their visit.

In May, Zinke and his wife, Lolita, used a military plane for a trip to Norway. From there, they flew on a military plane to Alaska. That trip included charter planes to travel within Alaska, although such flights are common since the state is so large and remote. Swift told POLITICO that the Zinkes paid for Lolita’s share of the trip out of pocket, but the full cost of the flights was not immediately available.

Zinke, along with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, also took a military plane to Ravalli County, Montana to check on wildfires in the area in August. USDA spokesman Tim Murtaugh said about their use of a military plane for this trip:

‘The military plane was used because of a very tight travel window, with no viable commercial airline options to transport two secretaries, security details, and associated USDA, Forest Service and Interior staff to Missoula in the time required.’

It’s unclear at this time if there will be consequences for Zinke’s travel expenses. President Trump rebuked Price recently for the massive bill he’s racked up; he even hinted that he might fire Price over the expenditures.

When asked if Price would keep his job, Trump said, “we’ll see.”

He added:

‘I was looking into it, and I will look into it. And I will tell you personally, I’m not happy about it. I am not happy about it. I’m going to look at it. I am not happy about it, and I let him know it.’

Trump himself has spent quite a bit of taxpayer money — more than $30 million — on his own travels, so he’s not exactly in a position to point fingers. Perhaps he’s worried that, if his staffers continue to travel so frequently, there won’t be enough money left for him to take more vacations this year.

Featured image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

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